Changing China

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Disaster in Sichuan

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Earthquake damage in Dujiangyan

I was one of the first foreign reporters on the scene after a devastating earthquake hit the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan on May 12.

It all seemed so normal when I arrived in the provincial capital Chengdu, some 12 hours after the 7.9 magnitude tremor hit, that I thought maybe the area had got off lightly. But heading in the hard hit town of Dujiangyan, just north of Chengdu, two hours after arriving in Sichuan, I realised how bad the situation was.

Dujiangyan looked like a war zone. There wasn’t a building that had not been damaged. Some had lost just a wall, or had a few cracks. Others had crumpled into the ground, as though a giant foot had descended from out of the sky and stamped on them.

Survivors, for the main part, either stood around in a state of total shock, or huddled together in tents, buses and cars, trying to avoid the drizzle that made what was already a depressing scene a thoroughly miserable and distressing one.

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