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Long wait for China quake survivors
Six months after deadly Sichuan quake, survivors say promised aid has not appeared.
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2008 09:36 GMT
Quake survivors say promised compensation
has not materialised [AFP]

Six months on from the devastating earthquake in China's southwestern Sichuan province, survivors facing the onset of winter say they still have not received the compensation they were promised.

The magnitude 7.9 earthquake was the deadliest to hit China in more than three decades, killing more than 80,000 people and leaving up to five million homeless.

Economic losses directly attributed to the quake have topped more than $120bn.

Several of the worst-hit towns, such as Beichuan close to the quake's epicentre, have been completely abandoned with plans to rebuild them elsewhere.

But survivors say those plans are moving far too slowly, with funds bogged down in bureaucracy and creamed off by corrupt local officials.

Revisiting the quake zone six months on, Al Jazeera's China correspondent, Tony Cheng, found many homeless survivors angry at local authorities who they say have not delivered on government promises of compensation.

In one town our correspondent found riot police and plain clothes officers deployed to control a crowd of protesters outside a local government office.

Corruption

Some accused corrupt local officials of stealing the promised compensation.

"We're supposed to get $60 per square metre compensation for our destroyed houses," one survivor said.

"But they're only offering us $15 - where has the rest of the money gone?"

Many other survivors are facing similar hardship and, while the government has managed to build hundreds of thousands of prefabricated temporary homes, the occupants have little to do.

In some camps unemployment levels are around 80 per cent, with many facing little prospect of finding work or more permanent housing.

Zhang Kai De, a former bank clerk, used to live in a comfortable city apartment.

He now has to make do with a single room he shares with his granddaughter in a camp built to accommodate more than 100,000 survivors.

As the bitter Sichuan winter nears, Zhang told Al Jazeera he was grateful for the assistance he has received, but nonetheless felt that not all the aid promised by the central government was getting through.

The money and aid for the refugees should be monitored carefully to make sure it all gets to the refugees and those who need it, he said.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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