Villagers count cost of Sunday's quake

By Wu Jiachun and Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-06-05 06:56

NING'ER, Yunnan: Standing in front of his tumbledown house, 39-year-old Yang Zhanyi, forced a smile when he saw the camera.

"Everything changed," he murmured, "within seconds."

Yang lives in Xiaohezi, the small village at the center of the 6.4-magnitude quake that rocked Ning'er at 5:34 am on Sunday.

He said his family was still asleep when he felt the earth begin to shake. He said he tried to get up but his bed was like "a small boat on a treacherous sea" and roof tiles were showering down around him.

Dazed and unsure of what was happening, Yang said he simply huddled together with his wife and two sons.

The tremor lasted for more than one minute, he said.

When the shaking had stopped and he was able to get up, Yang said he noticed the iron door to the bedroom had been bent out of shape. So he pushed open the windows - the glass had already gone - and helped his family, still dressed in their nightwear, out of their demolished home.

"This is it," he said, pointing at the debris around him. "When I jumped out of the window, everything was already like this."

About 100 homes in Xiaohezi village were damaged by the quake, with many wooden properties razed to the ground.

Dozens of villagers were injured as a result of the tremor.

Zhang Hongwei said he was hit in the face by a falling brick as he was carrying his infirm mother to safety.

Village doctor Xiao Yingquan said his clinic was crowded with injured people on Sunday.

"My wife and children cried when they saw them," he said.

Yang, who is of the Yi minority and works as a laborer on building sites, said: "I didn't cry; there was no use."

But he said he couldn't contain his sadness over losing his three-year old home, which cost him about 80,000 yuan ($10,300) to build.

"It will be even more difficult to build a new one because the cleanup work will also cost a lot."

Yang said his family spent Sunday night in the courtyard protected by plastic sheets and quilts. Both the water and electricity supplies were off.

Yesterday, families were provided with tents, bottled water and rice. The water supply was also switched back on yesterday afternoon.

Calm about his plight, Yang said he hoped the government would help him build a concrete house that could stand up better to quakes.

"It would be impossible for me to afford it," he said.

Villagers have been warned that further shocks might follow Sunday's tremor.

(China Daily 06/05/2007 page3)

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