|Missionary recounts aftermath in Chengdu|
Survivors of an earthquake that struck the Sichuan Province
of China on May 12 are afraid to return to their homes in Chengdu due to
A UMNS photo by Yue Yaomeng.
May 15, 2008 | CHENGDU, China (UMNS)
Aftershocks of the May 12 earthquake in China continue to make people
there uneasy, according to a United Methodist missionary living in
Connie Wieck, a missionary with the United Methodist Board of Global
Ministries, has recounted a few of her experiences on her blog at http://chinawieck.spaces.live.com. Wieck, who teaches English in China through the Amity Foundation, is on sabbatical doing language study in Chengdu.
On May 14, the aftershocks brought people back to the streets. Wieck,
who lives in an off-campus apartment across from the West Gate of
Sichuan University, and her dog, Little Flower, resumed their normal
walking route around the campus. An earthquake information center had
been erected at the head administration building.
“Throughout the campus, students had set up their bedding outside,
either on the grass or under classroom building overpasses that would
protect them from the sun and rain,” she wrote. “Well-tended lawns that
once were forbidden territory to students now became speckled with
squatters. Hundreds of makeshift bedsheet tents, created by ropes
attached to trees, were found in the woodsy areas.
“Around the sports stadium, huge plastic canvas sheets had been draped
over outdoor exercise equipment, providing quite a cozy corner for the
100 or so students who managed to claim that space. The sports field had
also been opened. I calculated 400 or more crashed on the asphalt.”
Just outside the campus, university students had set up a booth and were
accepting donations for the earthquake victims. Near the gate into her
apartment compound, a high school student was collecting clothes for
survivors and already had four plastic bags full.
Wieck happened to be at home when the earthquake hit, forcing her to
leave her first-floor apartment with her dog and Little Ghost, an
abandoned kitten she had rescued a month earlier.
Others there in the early afternoon – the elderly, young mothers or
those in private business with flexible working hours – gathered on the
grounds of her apartment complex. “Everyone has a cell phone in China,
so many were busily text-messaging friends and family members or calling
to make sure they were safe,” she wrote. “The atmosphere quickly lifted
from one of fright to one of a pleasant outing together with friends
It wasn’t until she returned to her apartment that evening that Wieck
discovered, by surfing the Internet and watching local television
stations, the magnitude of the earthquake. The quake registered 7.9 on
the Richter scale, and the death toll could reach 50,000, according to
China’s state-run Xinhua news agency.
While about 60 of the complex’s residents chose to spend the night
outside, some spent “a restless sleep in our own beds,” Wieck wrote.
“Every quiver of the building had us wondering if it would suddenly
become as strong as the first.”
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com.
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