China’s Earthquake Victims Still Suffer and Struggle

November 13, 2008 Updated: October 1, 2015
Earthquake aftermath in Wenchuan County of Sichuan Province, China. (China Photos/Getty Images)
Earthquake aftermath in Wenchuan County of Sichuan Province, China. (China Photos/Getty Images)

Six months has passed since the disastrous Wenchuan earthquake hit China. Are earthquake victims still suffering and struggling? Have they finally settled? Are parents of students who were buried alive under the rubble of so-called “tofu-waste” buildings still fighting authorities to find whose responsibility? Are they living in a warm place with winter fast approaching?

In search of answers, an Epoch Times reporter interviewed some earthquake victims.

How Earthquake Victims Struggle Through Winter

With the approach of winter, many people are concerned how earthquake victims will survive the cold. People from many different areas have donated winter clothing and bedding.

Ms. Kang in Dujiangyan told the Epoch Times that recently every household in her area had received bedding, quilts and clothes.

However, Sichuan Province’s Civil Affairs Department reported the earthquake-stricken areas still needed 800,000 quilts and 700,000 winter suits.

As many as 120,000 people in Beichuan County alone will struggle through winter, with many living in tents meant for summer.

Winter in the area is extremely cold, especially in the countryside and remote mountains.

Ms. Jiang in Beichuang County said, “When it gets cold, it’s not a problem if you live in a wooden house. But there are over 1,000 people still living in tents in our Leigu Town.”

Ms. Shi Fangkang said, “Every day is getting colder. The government subsidized us 20,000 yuan, but we have to borrow the rest. Such a small amount of money simply isn't enough to repair a house. Those of us who don't have money still live in temporary housing, and the longer we live in it, the more worn out it is. Our family of six is crammed in.”

Earthquake Parents Still Suffer

The authorities reported that close to 70,000 had died in the earthquake, including 16,000 students.

Many parents of deceased students are still pressing authorities to investigate who will be responsible for the “tofu-waste” constructions, and they seek compensation. The authorities, however, have suppressed requests placing parents under surveillance.

One of the parents, Mrs Fan, whose child was in the Xinjiang Elementary School in Dujiangyan said, “We have all been suppressed and we cannot go anywhere. We aren't allowed to get together. Some are detained in education classes. If three people get together, it is considered a group gathering to cause trouble. Some parents in my child’s class were arrested. We are not allowed to be interviewed or we’ll all be arrested.”

Late last month, at a funeral service for a dozen students of the Xinjiang Elementary School who died in the earthquake, over one hundred police showed up to stop people from holding the ceremony in the school.

Ms. Yang, a resident of Dongqi, said sadly, “My only son was 18 years old, and he was tall and handsome. I have not been able to find him so far. Now those kids are buried together. I want to see him, but I dare not see him. People said that as time goes by I’ll forget everything. However, I think about him even more. Now we are living without any goals, and I don’t know how to live in the future. This morning when it was still early, my husband and I could not sleep, and we just held each other and cried together.”

Another parent whose child was a student of the Beichuan High School, Mr. Liu, said, “The authorities did not reply to our question regarding “tofu-waste” constructions. Now the government doesn't respond, care, or investigate. We held a memorial service at home. We're not allowed to hold a memorial service in public.”

As for finding out who is responsible for the “tofu-waste” buildings, Mr. Liu commented, “We are very disappointed. We don't want anything. We just ask for the value of our children’s lives that they deserved to have. The authorities simply won't admit that man-made factors were involved. Now we don’t have any other way but hope the media calls for help to get us out of this. We parents have been fighting for our rights with our lives.”

Greedy Officials Steal Earthquake Relief Materials

According to earthquake victims in Pengzhou City, Sichuan Province, they've been living in terrible conditions.

Temporary houses that were built from wooden slabs were of very poor quality; they have also been suffering water shortages.

They revealed that different levels of government officials have been stealing earthquake relief materials, and that local government even used the excuse of generating positive cash flow to steal some donation money.

Government officials are still witholding part of the earthquake aid.

Mr Chen who is a local resident said that there were over 200 families in his area who still live in substandard temporary houses.

Mr Li has inspected many earthquake-stricken areas in Pengzhou City.

He commented, “The fact that government officials only care about what they can put in their pockets, have forced earthquake victims to save themselves. People in some areas have put up banners that say, ‘Use our own strength, sweat our own sweat, and build our own homes.’ That just shows that the government hasn't been helping. What has happened in disaster areas is simply not like what has been shown on TV.”

Read the original article in Chinese