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Chinese Earthquake Victims in Tears Searching for Missing Family Members

Chinese Earthquake Victims in Tears Searching for Missing Family Members

Posted May. 15, 2008 07:27,   


The hardest-hit city of Mianyang in Sichuan Province, China, was seen dotted with makeshift shelters housing the victims of the earthquake that shook China three days ago.

The strongest quake in 32 years has wreaked havoc on the lives of Sichuan Province residents, who have been fighting fear and chilly temperatures in makeshift tents while searching for their displaced family members.

A 40-year-old woman hunkered down in a corner of a tent was still trembling in fear, saying, “I still feel the shaking. I can’t get into my house.”

Most shops in the city were closed for fear of aftershocks, except some grocery stores selling living commodities. Dong-A special correspondents visited a gym that reportedly houses the largest number of victims.

▽Finding Family Members

A temporary home to 12,000 victims, the gym was packed to capacity with people. Tents were mushrooming outside the gym, swarmed with people searching for their missing family members. In total, 50,000 people were moving in and out of the gym.

Despite police shutdown of the roads a kilometer ahead of the facility, roads moving pass it were almost like parking lots crowded with vehicles and people.

A farmer from a rural prefecture was peeping into tents, holding a board with the names of his three sisters written on it. He lamented, “I can’t find my three sisters.”

A 27-year-old mother, eyes swollen from crying, grabbed every one she bumped into, searching for her husband and 7-year-old son.

▽ Volunteers and Aid Flooding In

Unaffected residents were continuously delivering aid to the victims, such as clothes, blankets, water bottles and first-aid kits. A McDonald’s in the downtown area reportedly doled out, free-of-charge, all the hamburgers it had to the victims.

Volunteers were cleaning, taking care of elderly citizens and children, distributing aid, and cooking and serving meals for the victims.

A college student who joined the volunteer army said, “I watched it on TV and came here with my friends to help the victims. My heart aches whenever I see people searching for their family members.”

Chinese news organizations reported that the earthquake may have taken the lives of 19,565 people. Counting in the buried and the missing, the total number of victims amounts to 100,000.

The Chinese Xinhua news agency reported that the Chinese Liberation Army and armed police force were first deployed to Wenchuan County, the epicenter of the quake, Wednesday to assist in the rescue operation.

orionha@donga.com bonhong@donga.com