CHINA> Regional
Sad memories flood back 100 days after quake
By Zhang Haizhou (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-08-20 07:14

Sitting in the pouring rain in rubble that used to be her home in Beichuan, Wang Xinghua could not help but cry Tuesday.

Like many other local residents, Wang visited her hometown to pay homage to relatives, colleagues, and friends who lost their lives in the May 12 earthquake. The city was reopened for just one day after being sealed off since May 20.

Chinese custom dictates one should pay homage 100 days after a person's death.

Wang said six of her relatives were still buried in the rubble.

Surrounded by burning joss sticks and candles, Wang knelt and prayed that "all her relatives were happy and well in heaven".

Beside her stood her daughter and husband, heads bowed in silent prayer.

"Today may be the last opportunity I have to visit my hometown," Wang said.

The family left the Anchang township where they are currently settled, at 7 am for Leigu township where they boarded buses with many others for the trip to Beichuan.

About 57 percent of Beichuan's 20,000 population before the quake, were of the Qiang ethnicity.

"You can see how sad everyone is," Wang said, pointing to a group of people carrying coffins.

For Qiang people, they must bury their relatives in Beichuan, Wang said.

"Some only contain the clothing of relatives as their bodies cannot not be found," she said.

Wang later visited the ruins of the national taxation bureau where she once worked, and where 12 of her colleagues died.

"I had go back to have a look. I was pulled from the building after being buried for 73 hours," Wang said.

Lying deep in the mountains, the Beichuan county was one of the most severely hit regions. Most of it was buried by landslides.

"Everything has been destroyed. My beautiful hometown is gone," Wang said.