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Survivors look ahead one month after quake

05-14-2010 17:12 BJT

by Xinhua writer Zhu Shaobin

GYEGU, Qinghai, May 14 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of blue tents, sprawling across a course where horses used to race, are serving as temporary homes for residents in Gyegu town, exactly one month after a deadly quake shook the Tibetan community in northwest China's Qinghai Province.

The former racecourse, overlooked by the snow-capped plateau, is now the biggest settlement in town.

Several white trucks parked in the tent community transport daily goods from the provincial capital Xining, about 800 kilometers from Gyegu.

"Five retail companies have set up outlets here," said Li Jinxi, a salesman of Qinghai Department Store.

Li said the outlets were opened four days after the 7.1-magnitude quake hit Yushu, a Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, on April 14, to meet the essential needs of the quake survivors.

Despite the high transportation cost, not a single vendor had raised their prices, he said.

In another corner of the community, a group of Tibetan children were playing on a simple slide and a trampoline. Their laughter seemed to tell everyone they had, at least for the moment, forgotten the nightmarish quake.

"Some of them have actually lost their parents in the quake," said Padma Lhamo, a teacher with the Ghee Lamp Children's Home, a kindergarten founded by a non-governmental organization in Yushu.

Nineteen children were registered at the kindergarten so far, but Padma Lhamo said the number was set to grow to about 100.

"We expect to give them classes in about two weeks," she said. "When more funds come, we'll also provide them free meals."

Padma Lhamo, 23, is the third of five children in a local Tibetan family. The quake toppled 85 percent of homes in Gyegu town at the heart of Yushu, including hers.

Next to the debris of her old home are five tents, four acting as bedrooms and one as a kitchen for her extended family of 14.

"My elder brother is out searching for caterpillar fungus (a traditional medicine widely used as a tonic) and may not return for another month," she said. "My younger brother is a monk at Gyegu Monastery and rarely comes home."

Even in early summer, the night temperature still falls to zero degree Celsiu in Yushu, which sits at an average altitude over 4,000 meters above sea level.

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