China has been remembering an earthquake that devastated Sichuan province in the south west exactly one year ago. Mourners gathered throughout the region to burn incense and lay wreaths to commemorate the 80,000 who died. Thousands more are still officially listed as missing.
The earthquake struck at 2:28 in the afternoon local time. It measured magnitude eight. Tectonic plates ruptured, and grated together along a fault hundreds of kilometres in length. It was the deadliest earthquake in China since 1976. The country is spending more than 100-billion euros on re-building. The president Hu Jintao said the disaster galvanised the nation, and he praised the speed with which his people have set about re-construction. “The biggest challenge we face is how to get most people back into the town in as short a time as possible, so they can re-build their material and spiritual homeland. But we must also find them jobs while we work to give them new homes,” said He Wang, Deputy Leader of Beichuan County. Beijing says well over 5,000 children died when their schools collapsed while they were in class. It is a figure much lower than reports a year ago suggested. Many parents blame shoddy construction for the deaths, pointing out the government buildings and flats that survived, while schools nearby disintegrated.