Three Years After Sichuan Earthquake, Situation Still Dire
Hundreds of thousands of people returned to the ruins of their former homes in Beichuan, Sichuan Province, to mourn the loss of their loved ones on the third anniversary of the deadly May 12, 2008 earthquake.
From May 10 to May 12, tearful grievers burned incense around the debris of schools and homes and along the river, and left flowers and gifts for their deceased families and friends.
A Beichuan schoolteacher told The Epoch Times that although the government said Wenchuan was the epicenter of the quake, most of Beichuan County was leveled to the ground, and almost every Beichuan survivor has lost family members in the quake. "Many are still unable to recover from the loss of family,” he said.
Ms. Liao, who lost five family members, told The Epoch Times since the quake she has been feeling scared when alone or at night.
Many Survivors Still Not Housed
According to the Chinese regime’s official estimates, the magnitude 8.0 quake on May 12, 2008 killed nearly 70,000, a large percentage of them school children.
While still struggling with the disaster trauma, survivors said the government’s meager aid and the suppression of rights activists have made things worse for them. And contrary to official reports, many survivors have not yet been housed.
Sang Jun, whose child was buried under a collapsed school building, told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that he has received no help from the government. “I’m still living in my mother’s house,” he said. “I have not received any benefits from authorities, because they are all corrupt officials.”
Sang said, before the three-year anniversary the local government force-evicted survivors who were still living in government-built temporary shacks in order to cover up the fact that many who lost their homes have not yet been housed.
“If you didn’t move out, they’d cut your power and water supplies, or demolish the shacks by force,” Sang told RFA.
Mr Zhang, another survivor, told RFA that the government’s housing aid was just enough to cover one fifth of home construction costs, and most survivors could not afford the government’s high interest loans.
For most families in this underdeveloped region, rebuilding costs are a huge burden. Hong Kong post-disaster assistance volunteers working in Sichuan found many young girls aged 12 to 17 from quake survivor families have chosen prostitution in order to help their families repay debts acquired for home building. And a third of all young children cannot afford to go to school, according to a May 12 World Journal report.
The Chinese regime says it has spent $123-billion on rebuilding efforts, and claims that 95 percent of planned construction projects are completed. But quake victims told New York-based New Tang Dynasty TV (NTD) that the situation is not like what local state-media has reported, and aid money is hard for ordinary people to come by.
“You hear officials say that victims are all settled, and state-media reports saying how good the situation is now. Is it good? There are those who have been settled nicely. They’re the relatives of officials, or those with connections. That’s all,” one quake victim told NTD.
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