Five weeks after the May 12th earthquake, the Chinese army is still working on the front line of the quake zone.
The second day of a four-day journey started early on Tuesday morning. This relief convoy wants to reach as many settlements as possible while the weather is still good. Forecasters say there will be rain in the next few days, so everyone wants to travel faster.
But road conditions don't allow us to move as quickly as we'd like. Earlier landslides have damaged many parts of the main road, leaving only a narrow path. Bridges have also collapsed, so the convoy has to circle around to find other way.
Before mid-day, the convoy reaches Yuli Township, the place where Da Yu was born four thousand years ago. Da Yu grew up to become ancient China's irrigation hero, but his hometown was totally submerged by the Tangjiashan barrier lake a couple weeks ago. Several days ago, water level started to drop and the ravaged town appeared again.
All the survivors here had been evacuated into the mountains, and it will take a while for them to return to their hometown. The army has sent out several boats to bring villagers back across the water.
On the way into Yuli Township, we find troops busy cleaning the towns' major roads. They say they are trailbreakers, the first troops to enter the town after the waters retreated.
Army company commander said "We are from Company III, in the garrison of Yuli Township. The barrier lake water has retreated. We were the first troop to enter the town. Our mission is to clean the garbage, mud and anything blocking the roads to ensure transportation for vehicles and passengers. We'll need at least five days to complete the mission."
In the town, another army company is busy spraying disinfectant. The smell is so strong that soldiers passing by can't help covering their noses. The army company command says it's a hard job, but an indispensable one.
Army company commander said "As the quake lake has been successfully drained, the township has totally emerged out of the water. Now in order to prevent any outbreaks of disease, our troops are sterilizing the streets and building in town."
Later in the day, more and more villagers gather at a supply depot near town. Everyone looks glad and everything seems in order. Army officers organize the distribution according to a list of names provided by local government officials. This ensures that everyone receives the correct portion of relief goods, which are supposed to last another 20 days.
Local villager of Yuli township said "We are from nearby villages. We traveled quite a long way to get here. Some climbed hills, some were brought in boats by the army across the water to get tents and rice. We really appreciate the help from the party and the government. These supplies are important for our reconstruction and self-rescue. We feel confident that we can get our lives back to normal."
By early afternoon, the convoy moved on to the next settlement. Most are located in mountainous areas, difficult and dangerous to reach. But since there are still people waiting for help, the convoy keeps moving down the road.
(CCTV June 20, 2008)