Ushering in Lunar New Year, some Chinese mourn disaster victims, pray for better future

12:32, February 04, 2011      

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While most Chinese ushered in the Lunar New Year Thursday with joy and celebrations, people in China's disaster-hit regions mourned the victims on the most important day for family reunion, yet they prayed for a better future.

The public was allowed to return to quake-leveled Beichuan County to mourn their deceased relatives beginning on Thursday, the first day of the Chinese New Year according to the lunar calendar.

Beichuan, in Sichuan Province of southwest China, was abandoned after all survivors of the rare earthquake that struck on May 12, 2008 were relocated to adjacent areas at the end of the month.

Throngs of people began to enter the county seat on Thursday morning after presenting the proper identification.

They brought food and flowers, lit candles and murmured at their ravaged home sites, praying for peace for the dead and a better life for the living.

The county seat will be opened for one week, until the end of the seven-day Spring Festival holiday.

Thousands of people are expected to visit Beichuan, where 15,645 people lost their lives due to the 8.0-magnitude earthquake which left about 80,000 people dead or missing in Sichuan and adjacent regions.

Most of the survivors had already moved to new houses in Yongchang Town, about 23 kilometers away, when the central Chinese government decided to relocate all of Beichuan's population to a new site, rather than rebuilding in the county.

In northwest China's Qinghai Province, many villagers of Yushu County, where a 7.1-magnitude earthquake killed about 2,200 people in April 2010, abandoned all celebrations on Thursday.

Many awoke early so they could pay tribute, chant scriptures and burn incense to those killed in the quake, and then return to their normal lives.

Nganggug Zhaxi, who just moved into a new apartment at the end of last year, prepared various traditional foods and dishes.

Nganggug, in his 40s, said his family received everything from the government so their lives are perfectly ensured. He hoped his son could be enrolled in a university this year.

In Zhouqu County of Gansu Province, where a massive landslide left more than 1,700 people dead or missing in August last year, many survivors gathered together for dinner and watched TV shows after mourning for their relatives killed in the disaster.

He Xinchang, a farmer of the worst-hit Yueyuan Village, said his biggest hope is to move into a new house as soon as possible and start a new life.

Hu Zhanyong, 69, took a family picture Thursday with his ten offspring.

"No one in my family was lost in the landslide. We cherish the luck so much and believe in a better prospect," said the old man, who was joining others to repair their damaged houses.

Source: Xinhua
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