Sichuan quake: Food supplies finally arrived, but still it wasn't enough

SCMP reporter Zhuang Pinghui on day three of the Sichuan earthquake

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 April, 2013, 5:58pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 April, 2013, 6:13pm

In the final part of SCMP reporter Zhuang Pinghui's account of the Sichuan earthquake, she reveals how the shell-shocked community of Longmen village came together to bury the dead.

Monday, April 22

More rescue materials arrived during the night and the next morning the town centre was piled high with bottled water and emergency food supplies.

Monks handed out hot porridge and people queued for hot buns donated by a bakery whose owner moved all his staff and cooking equipment from Chengdu to Lushan.

A bottled water manufacturer, reacting to a weather forecast of rain, dispatched umbrellas but was forced to stop after people fought for them.

As predicted, the rain came so we returned to some of the villages in Longmen township to see how they were coping, only to find more angry villagers. Around 100 were eating and living together in just five huts.

"We have few stocks and nobody came to us," said Chen Yan, 40. "It's the third day and we have one instant noodle and one bottle of water.

"We wanted electricity so that we can grind the millet to rice and help ourselves."

Two four-month-old babies who were living in the village were being fed on thin porridge by their frustrated parents.

That morning they had buried a victim of the quake, an "outsider" who lived here for five years and who died in front of his brother. His body had been pulled from rubble a day later, washed by his devastated brother and placed in a donated coffin.

The villagers were so weak from lack of food that they had to leave the coffin on the mountain to go back to eat before climbing up to bury him properly.