Recovery efforts have been underway for 6 days now.
Since the original 7.9 magnitude earthquake there have been over 5,000 small tremors and about 100 significant aftershocks. The city of Chengdu, 100km to the South East of the epicenter, struggles to return to normal while each successive aftershock tests what appears to be its last nerve. In spite of this, the uniformly generous and selfless nature of the population of China is as overwhelming as the sheer destructive power of this disaster.
It’s been almost 36 hours since I’ve felt a significant aftershock and just before the last one came, moments ago, my girlfriend had said how quiet it’s been here. I barely had time to voice my agreement when the room started shaking and glasses on the table started chattering. It lasted about 20 seconds and was the strongest aftershock I’ve felt since 1am yesterday morning, which registered a 6.0 on the richter scale. Here in Chengdu these aftershocks are merely discomforting, but having been in areas closer to the epicenter I know that the power of these aftershocks is exponentially more fierce and dangerous in areas which are in the greatest need of help.
Yesterday I returned to Qing Cheng Mountain, which I was trapped on for 24 hours during the earthquake. Some of the roads were repaired and it was a much easier trip up the mountain this time than it was coming down the day after the earthquake. The weather was clear, the rain had subsided, and the aftershocks were much less frequent. As it were, I didn’t feel any aftershocks at all until we’d arrived back to the original destination where everything had first happened. It was unnerving to be in the same place and again experience the frightening familiarity of the ground trembling beneath me. We didn’t stick around for long – I took a few hundred photos and we began our descent. Along the way I took nearly 500 photos which are uploading as I write this. A picture is worth a thousand words and I believe these photos will do that phrase justice.
Here’s a preview video which was filmed steps away from where I was when the earthquake occurred:
2:28pm this afternoon marks one week since this disaster and alarms will be sounded all across the country for three minutes, followed by three days of mourning. I’ll go to Tianfu Square (the center of Chengdu, which sits in front of a towering statue of Mao) and take some photos and video at that time.