Life goes on after tragedy

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A woman pins a paper flower on her husband's sleeve on Saturday in Renjia village, Qingren township, in Sichuan province's Lushan county, to pay respect to those who died in the earthquake. [Photo/ China Daily]

Those who lost loved ones in the earthquake mourned on Saturday. Recovery from the disaster is a difficult and painful process.

Li Shaohua shoveled earth on top of two graves on Saturday morning, seven days after his wife and daughter died in the Lushan county earthquake. Li, 46, from Renjia village, Qingren township, Sichuan province, bowed three times to the graves, while his 19-year-old son burned paper offerings to the departed family members.

According to the Chinese tradition of touqi, loved ones should pay their respects to the dead on the seventh day after burial.

Li's 42-year-old wife and 9-year-old daughter died on April 20, when the magnitude-7 quake jolted Lushan and its neighboring counties. It caused the deaths of at least 196 people, with 21 missing.

"It's the natural disaster that claimed your lives, so please don't blame us," one of Li's relatives murmured at the graveside.

Sichuan government, meanwhile, made Saturday a day of condolence. All entertainment activities were banned and three minutes of silence were observed from 8:02 am, while vehicle and ships' horns were blown and the air-strike warning wailed.

Li was working at a construction site when the quake started at 8:02 am. The nearby bridge shook, but he ignored the danger and immediately rushed home over the bridge.

"I knew that my daughter must be sleeping because it was the weekend," he said.

But when he arrived, his three-room house built in 1991 was a pile of ruins.

From his 86-year-old mother he learned that his wife escorted his mother out of the house first, when the quake struck. But she was buried by the collapsed ceiling when she returned to rescue her sleeping daughter.

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