AP NEWS
Related topics

Village Rebuilds From Killer Quake With AM-SF Quake, Bjt

October 22, 1989

BEIJING (AP) _ Wan Degui had just moved into a new house with three rooms when the earth came alive beneath his small village.

″I only lived in it for 12 days,″ he matter-of-factedly told a Western reporter touring the region. ″But when the quake hit, it just collapsed.″

Wan, like other peasants in Guiren Village in northern Shanxi province, made few demands of the government after the worst quakes the region has seen in more than a decade.

″If we can resolve it ourselves, we will. If not, we will rely on what the government can do,″ Wan said, but added, ″what the government cannot do we will have to do ourselves.″

The first of six strong tremors hit Wednesday night, and the others followed Thursday, leaving 29 people dead and 50,000 homeless.

In a sympathy telegram sent Sunday to the quake-struck area in Shanxi and Hebei provinces, about 135 miles west of Beijing, the government called on residents to show a ″spirit of hard struggle and self-reliance.″

Wan’s neighbor, Guan Xiaoping, was doing his best. As the sun set Saturday, he was still sawing boards for the frame of a makeshift shelter he hoped would get him and his family of three through the winter.

His house collapsed, as did 95 percent of the homes in his farm village of about 2,400 people set on a dusty, barren plain. Five people were crushed to death, and two were injured, Wan said.

The homes were mainly one-story structures of packed clay with some stones and bricks to help hold them together.

Three days after the quakes, villagers set up housekeeping in tents of straw and quilts. Their pigs and horses roamed the dirt paths.

″I was inside the house watching television, when I heard a loud sound, like thunder. When the ground started to shake, we rushed outside,″ said Guan.

″After the third quake, most of the houses had collapsed,″ he said. His cat was crushed to death. His wife, young son, dog and another cat escaped.

His house in ruins around him, Guan still offered guests a traditional warm welcome, pulling out a red vinyl-padded folding chair and a glass of hot water boiled over an outdoor stove.

His family has been sleeping since the quake in a straw tent, but soldiers who arrived in the village Friday were helping him build a stronger, although still temporary shelter.

″Yesterday there were five soldiers, today there were eight,″ he said. Altogether, several hundred soldiers came to the village, residents reported, bringing clothing, instant noodles, crackers and bowls.

No one complained about the slowness of reconstruction efforts or the government’s failure to immediately provide shelter for the homeless, who have huddled around fires and under makeshift tents during the near-freezing nights.

″Every family is living like this,″ Guan said. ″We have no other choice.″

″My lips have blisters from the cold and my entire body is uncomfortable,″ said Liu Rongxiang, a matronly woman who was bundled in several sweaters and a quilted jacket. ″My only hope now is to have a home, whether it’s good or bad.″

AP RADIO
Update hourly