Jiuzhaigou earthquake: Locals hold vigil for victims

Updated 2017-08-16 10:45:49 CGTN

It's been almost a week since a magnitude-7.0 earthquake rocked Jiuzhaigou county in southwest China's Sichuan Province, killing 25 people and leaving nearly 50 more in critical condition. As rescue teams continued to help local residents cope after the disaster, a vigil was held on Tuesday to commemorate those who lost their lives.

As people mourned the deceased, there's also the question of how those who survived will carry on with their lives.

Jiuzhaigou is known for its scenic wonders. Its towering waterfalls, snow-covered peaks as well as lakes of varied colors used to attract tens of thousands of visitors from home and abroad on any given day.

The national park was inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1992.

After the earthquake struck the county, many of these features sustained serious damage. Nuorilang Waterfall, one of the few and most spectacular waterfalls formed by calcified stones, has almost "disappeared".

"Ninety percent of what we have comes from tourism," said the owner of a small local restaurant. "My family had just bought a shuttle bus to transport tourists. Now, who's going to come?"

Meanwhile, danger still lurks. Aftershocks and secondary disasters continue to threaten the locals who have been camping out in open areas.

Manmade accidents are also not unlikely as people cook food and boil water with open fires in their temporary shelters.

"After past earthquakes, many fires occurred at temporary shelters due to mishandling of flames. Lives were lost because of this," said Colonel Liu Haiyan with the Sichuan Fire Control Brigade. "There have been enough of these kinds of accidents."

"They survived the earthquake, we can't let them die of fire," added another fire control officer.

While many voices online discuss the possibility of artificially restoring Jiuzhaigou's natural wonders, the majority of experts have already dismissed this possibility and said nature needs to repair itself over time.

For the locals, it's going to be a long and difficult wait.

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