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The toll of the mountain roads
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By David Ferguson
China.org.cn correspondent reporting from Sichuan

Last week our team travelled into the mountains on the road from Dejiangyan towards Hongkou village. What we saw there left us staggered.

The photos we took cannot come close to capturing the extent of the destruction, and I know I will never find words to describe it, but I want to make the effort. Hundreds of workers died trying to reopen and keep open these roads to the worst-hit and most inaccessible towns and villages, and the sacrifice they made should be recorded and honored.

We drove north on the road past the Zipingpu dam. Early reports suggested that the dam and its power station had suffered badly in the quake, but it seems that these were mistaken. None of the infrastructure showed any sign of damage. The water in the reservoir has been lowered to allow for proper inspection of the dam, and to provide available capacity to handle any landslide-produced floods above the reservoir.

Whole sides of mountains have fallen away

As we traveled further into the mountains the scale of the devastation gradually became apparent. Whole sides of mountains had disappeared, leaving huge white scars where they had fallen away.

Eventually we reached a point where there was no longer any proper road. A car lay crushed under a rock twice its size – not a comforting sight. A single track scraped out of the fallen rocks by a bulldozer continued over a crest and around a bend. We had no idea how far this track stretched, but we had passed other traffic using the road on our way up, and the thought of two cars meeting in opposite directions was not an appealing prospect.

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