Life goes on after tragedy

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Today marks World Children's Day, and children from earthquake-hit Lushan County in Sichuan Province are trying to get back to normal life after the disaster.

Today marks World Children's Day, and children from earthquake-hit Lushan County in Sichuan Province are trying to get back to normal life after the disaster. Clockwise from top left: Mischievous three-year-old Zhang Yixin hides behind a panda toy in Longmen village; Nine-year-old Yang Zongce gets his hair cut in Longmen; Five-year-old Yang Yuehang take a rest in the back of a van that's become her temporary home after the quake destroyed her house in Longmen; Four-year-old Mao Tian'ai is well prepared for the sun as she strolls around her temporary home in Feixianguan County. 

"Neighbors helped me carefully remove the wood ceiling and we were hoping my wife and daughter had survived," he said.

Nine people in Li's village died in the quake. Five of the victims were elderly and could not run away, commented Zhu Jinren, a village official.

Most of the village's old houses were completely destroyed, while newly built structures were fractured, Zhu added. "We must support each other and be strong," the village official said to villagers when they gathered to mourn on Saturday.

Li said he cried uncontrollably at the scene of the disaster and called his son, Li Lin, who studies at Xichang College.

On April 21, the second day of the quake, his son arrived home. "We hugged and cried," Li said.

With the help of relatives, Li and his son buried his wife and daughter the same day. "It was raining so we did not pile much earth onto the graves."

Despite his grief, Li volunteered to help others and transported relief materials for the village government, setting up tents and patrolling to maintain social order.

"By keeping myself busy I tried to set aside my sadness. The deceased have left us, and we survivors must continue and stay strong," Li said. "It's not easy to forget but we have to face the reality and restart our lives."

His son plans to find a part-time job as a swimming coach for the upcoming semester.

"My mom and sister have passed away, and I now have a stronger sense of duty for the family," Li Lin said. "We need to face up to the suffering of life."

"I am a stranger to most of my fellow college students," he said of those students in his college who made donations. "But they were very generous."

The government has provided bottled water and instant noodles for village residents and they have all been given tents to live in.

The central and provincial government has provided a total of 1.51 billion yuan for rescue work, the provincial government said on Saturday.

Everyone in the quake-hit region received a subsidy of 10 yuan and 0.5 kg of grain per day from the government since Thursday.

In addition, the civil affairs authorities have provided more than 87,000 tents, 233,000 quilts, and 3,393 tons of food to the affected region.

A week after the temblor, telecommunication services, water supplies and temporary accommodation have been provided in most of the quake-hit region. But electricity was still out in some rural areas as of Saturday.

For Li Shaohua, besides the grief of losing his wife and daughter, he now has to contend with the problem of how to survive himself.

"We have nothing now," he said. "Even my wife's body was laid in my mom's coffin."

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