CHINA> Post-quake Life
Survivors still have a mountain to climb
By Erik Nilsson (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-05-14 09:21

Wang Huiqiong and her husband were on the verge of opening a guesthouse when the May 12 earthquake in Sichuan province ripped their lives apart. They had spent 60,000 yuan ($8,800) to built it, borrowing the money from a bank and various relatives.

Survivors still have a mountain to climb
Wang Huiqiong stands outside what would have been her family-run guesthouse on April 28 in Qingping township of Mianzhu, Sichuan province. She and her husband spent 60,000 yuan ($8,800) to build it, but the property was destroyed during the May 12 earthquake. [Photo: Erik Nilsson/China Daily] 
Today, the cleft-riddled structure stands waiting to be demolished, while 63-year-old Wang must now live in a shack her family fashioned from boards, logs and bricks. The roof is swathed with tarps weighed down by concrete hunks.

"An older couple should be able to enjoy some happiness," she said, sobbing. "The guesthouse was our dream. It was beautiful, and we could meet people from outside the village while earning good money. We had hoped we'd live a good life, but that's all shattered now."

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Wang was among the few villagers who stayed in Qingping township of the city of Mianzhu following the quake, with recovery moving slowly in the more remote areas of the Longmen Mountains. Many rural residents have since relocated to cities.

Her husband suffered a broken leg in the disaster and, even after receiving free medical treatment in Hebei province, has been unable to restart work. The government still provides them with free rice.

"We have no way to make money," said Wang. "We need cash to live on, pay off our debts for the guesthouse and then tear it down."

The government had given them 22,000 yuan, but this is not enough to save them from their financial woes, she said.

Wang's son works as a safety monitor for the landslide-prone roads leading from Qingping, which groan with construction vehicles and usually end after several kilometers under tons of stone and mud.

Many buildings have disappeared without a trace in Qingping. Apart from an uprooted placard leaning against a folded power line, there is no evidence the Ginko Holiday Resort ever existed after it and its May 12 guests were completely buried by landslides, while nearby buildings were either flooded with earth or water, as landslides had affected the local waterways.

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