Tibetan Families Still in Tents Two Months After Quake

Rescuers and local residents help an injured woman (C) following an earthquake in Dechen county, southwest China's Yunnan province, Aug. 31, 2013

With winter fast approaching, hundreds of residents of a Tibetan-populated county in southwestern China’s Yunnan province are still living in tents two months after an earthquake collapsed houses and blocked roads to the mountainous region, sources said.

The  5.8 magnitude quake struck Yunnan’s Dechen  (in Chinese, Deqin) county on Aug. 30, destroying thousands of homes and forcing at least 9,000 area residents to relocate, according to state media.

“Those who were seriously affected by the earthquake are still living in their tents,” a Tibetan living in exile told RFA’s Tibetan Service, citing contacts in the region.

And though some families whose houses were undamaged have moved back into their homes, “many have pitched tents in front of their houses as a precaution, and some still sleep there at night,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Safer area sought

Meanwhile, 42 families living on a quake-struck mountainside in Dechen county’s Gaja township have applied for permission to move to a safer area, he said.

“The earthquakes in the area in August loosened the soil and rocks on the sides of the mountain, posing a great risk to the villagers living there,” he said.

“So they appealed to the local government for permission to move to Gyalthang (Zhongdian) county in Yunnan, but have so far received no reply to their request.”

“The families now have no choice but to live in tents pending a response from the authorities,” he said.

Authorities have provided families “moderately” affected by the quake with 150 lbs. of rice and 300 yuan (U.S. $49), RFA’s source said, adding, “I don’t know what compensation has been given to those who were seriously affected.”

Rebuilt homes destroyed

Earlier this year, Chinese security forces detained 21 Tibetans following clashes with police over the forced demolition of recently rebuilt homes in an earthquake-hit region of northwest China’s Qinghai province, according to Tibetan sources.

At least six Tibetans and four policemen were injured in the April 8 clashes in the town of Kyegudo in the Yulshul (Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, sources said.

Kyegudo was hit by a devastating earthquake on April 14, 2010, that largely destroyed the town and killed almost 3,000 residents by official count.

Many of the homes later torn down by authorities were built by families on their own land and with their own resources, sources said.

Reported by Sonam Wangdu for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee.  Written in English by Richard Finney.


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