Grim reality sets in for China quake survivors

Rescuers searched in the rubble of a quake-struck Chinese village Tuesday, with relatives facing the stark probability that only the remains of their loved ones could be found. Two days after a magnitude 6.1 tremor devastated the once-idyllic mountainside village of Longtoushan in southwest China’s Yunnan province, at least 398 people have been confirmed dead, with 80,000 houses destroyed and 124,000 seriously damaged. Li Shanyan watched anxiously as rescuers dug through the debris of her home in Longtoushan, the epicentre of the quake, searching for her 71-year-old aunt, who’s lifeless body was later recovered from the house.

We could still hear her yesterday morning. [The rescuers] dug for a whole day and couldn’t find her.

Li Shanyan, resident

More than 18,000 rescuers were deployed in Yunnan, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited the disaster zone on Monday. As the sun shone over Longtoushan—which has a population of more than 50,000—during the morning, the huge extent of devastation on a 600-metre hillside swath of the township became more visible. Nearly every building in that area, some of them five stories high, was almost entirely demolished by the quake, giving the appearance that the ground underneath them gave way entirely.

With each life saved, there will be one more happy family.

Premier Li Keqiang