Protests Continue Among Quake-Hit Sichuan Residents


2013.04.23
china-quake-protest-april-2013.jpg Residents of Lingguan township in Sichuan's Baxing county gather to appeal for relief supplies on April 23, 2013 with banners reading "I am cold and hungry."
AFP

As some survivors in areas worst hit by the weekend's earthquake in Sichuan still go without crucial supplies, residents of the provincial capital have staged an angry protest over cracks in their newly built homes, residents said.

Residents of Sichuan's Lushan county, which was hit by a magnitude-7 tremor on Saturday, as well as by repeated aftershocks, said there is a severe shortage of warm bedding, rice, and bottled water, while tents, electrical generators, and batteries were also in short supply.

A quake survivor surnamed Jiang from Lushan's worst-hit Longmen village said local people had already been to the local government to complain about the shortage of emergency shelter following the quake, which left more than 200 people dead or missing.

"We are desperate for tents," Jiang said. "We have more than 10 people packed into a single tent."

"We went to complain about it. The government said the tents would eventually get here, but that we have to take things slowly and that eventually each household will get its own tent," she said.

"There is no power over here right now, either."

Repeated calls to village and township governments in Lushan went unanswered during office hours on Tuesday.

Heavy rainfall and landslides in the mountainous quake zone have hampered relief efforts since Sunday, officials have said.

A second Longmen resident surnamed Dai said he was in a similar position.

"The tents they have given us are definitely not enough," he said. "We have around a dozen people squeezed into a single tent, and some people have no tents at all."

"There isn't enough food or water to go around, either," he said. "We went to talk to the village chief, and he said that the authorities higher up didn't send enough tents."

"There were [some protests] on the road, but I bet they didn't convince them."

'Short of everything'

A resident of Lushan's Taiping township surnamed Huang said he was currently being treated in Chengdu's Huaxi Hospital after being injured in the quake.

"There are shortages of so many things," Huang said. "They are short of everything."

"Right now I'm not at home, because my house totally collapsed," he said, adding, "Most of them collapsed. A lot of people were injured."

"The power, our communications, and roads were all cut off."

A resident of Shuangshi township, also surnamed Huang, said his village, Shifeng, had yet to receive any supplies at all.

"It still hasn't been sorted out," he said. "Yesterday, they gave us a package of instant noodles and a bottle of water, and it cost one yuan per package."

He said water trucks were handing out water to the elderly, but that local officials had said they didn't have time [to hand out water].

"They said they were busy saving Shifeng village."

An official who answered the phone at the Lushan county government offices said most roads to the quake-hit areas were now open, but that some villages were still "being rescued."

He confirmed that there were still shortages of tents, food, drinking water, and medical supplies.

Damaged homes

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 homeowners from Chengdu's Dayi county gathered this week to call on the property developer who built their homes to address "serious quality issues" and refund their hard-earned cash, residents said on Tuesday.

"There were around 2,000 people," said an eyewitness who saw Monday's protest. "They were all homeowners from that new apartment complex, and they were saying that there were problems after the quake, that the walls had cracked."

"They were demonstrating for some kind of response from the property developer. They wanted a refund," Zhang said.

A homeowner contacted online by RFA later confirmed that cracks had appeared in their apartment buildings, which were billed as being able to withstand a magnitude 8 earthquake.

An employee who answered the phone at the Dayi county government offices on Tuesday also confirmed the demonstration had taken place.

"Our leaders are already dealing with this," she said.

The earthquake struck Ya'an city in Lushan county on Saturday, along the same fault line as the devastating 7.9 magnitude tremor that hit Wenchuan county in Sichuan in 2008, killing nearly 90,000 people.

Beijing has sent around 18,000 troops to the area, along with a billion yuan (U.S.$162 million) in disaster relief funds.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Fung Yat-yiu for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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