Channel NewsAsia

Yunnan quake survivors concerned over future

With their homes and personal assets completely wiped out, many survivors of China's 6.5-magnitude earthquake are worried that they have nowhere to go.

YUNNAN: As search and rescue efforts continue in China’s quake-hit southwestern province of Yunnan, survivors are assessing their losses and looking ahead to rebuilding their lives.

China's US$97-million disaster relief fund will go towards the day-to-day needs of victims but excludes details about reconstructing homes, expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Sunday's (Aug 3) 6.5-magnitude earthquake was the strongest to strike Yunnan in 14 years and has killed more than 600 people.

Two-year-old survivor Tao Pingwei was knocked out by falling debris during the earthquake and although his legs were not fractured, it took five days for him to regain the strength to walk. His mother Huang Yuanyan says the toddler also has problems sleeping. "He would ask me to hold him and keep my head close to his. I'll have to hold both his hands.”

Except for scratches and bruises, the family has almost recovered from the catastrophe. But their home is now submerged by a quake lake formed by landslides that flooded the rivers. "Our home was completely drowned after caving in. Even if I plan to go back, I can't. We can't stay there anymore. I really don't know what to do now," said Tao Yongshu.

Besides providing tents to shelter survivors, officials have so far promised to give the displaced a daily compensation of 25 RMB (US$4) for the first 10 days. After that, they'll receive 15 RMB per day for three months. Households will also be reimbursed 20 thousand RMB, (US$3,250, S$4,070) for each family member who died in the quake.

While quake survivors say they are well taken care of at the hospital with access to clean water and food, they are concerned they have nowhere to go, now that their homes and personal assets have been completely wiped out by the earthquake.

Zheng Guifang, 52, said she is waiting for the government to offer more help in the reconstruction of her home. The farmer, who has sustained bruises on her left foot said all her savings is buried under her collapsed house. "We don't want to move. We have nowhere to go. Many generations have lived there and we have our own land. I've stayed there since young and feel for the place, must rebuild our home."

Preliminary figures estimate the quake has caused US$75 million in economic losses. But the actual amount could be much more in the densely populated region, home to one of the poorest farmers in China.