An Anniversary, and Sleeping on the Streets

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We went to the town of Yingxiu today, (see clip above) where thousands died in the May 12 earthquake. There we spent the one week anniversary of the disaster with a man named Wu Jiang, who had walked into town and was searching through the apartment building where his mother was killed. The rescue vehicles in the nearby military camp sound their horns, and we stood in the shade of a tree. “I don’t know what the future will be like here,” Wu told us. “This place doesn’t seem suitable for human life.”

We got back into Chengdu around midnight, only to encounter a massive traffic jam and witness people dragging their bedding out onto the sidewalks. The government announced that there was a strong possibility of an aftershock tonight over up to magnitude 7.0. There have been some pretty strong aftershocks the past few nights, but I’m not sure why the authorities are predicting one now. One of the most common questions I’ve heard people raise is why he government didn’t predict that May 12 quake. I usually respond that quakes are really hard to predict, which is the same line a State Council spokesman used when the question was raised at a press conference last week. Now they give the impression that they can. Here’s hoping they’re wrong.

Regardless, the crowds on the street seem more festive than afraid. Drinks and street food vendors are doing a brisks business, and it all has the feel of a camping trip. I’m staying inside and sleeping in a real bed.