by Xinhua writer Ma Shukun
ZHOUQU, Gansu, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- New life is slowly beginning to take root as grass is found growing in a pit where a team of rescuers dug for buried bodies in the mudslide-flattened Zhouqu County of northwest China's Gansu Province.
Shang Tiansheng, a 69 year-old man born in the county was sitting on a hillock in a shadow cast by a leaning apple tree beside the pit, staring at gravel and flowing water about five meters away.
"I come here every day since the disaster. My home is buried under the gravel and the flowing water" , Shang said, pointing to the direction without moving his eyes. "One mu of my farmland at the foot of the mountain is also destroyed." A mu is one-fifteenth hectare.
Shang and his wife were lucky to survive the deadly mudslide which devastated the county around midnight on Aug. 8 as they ran out of their house after hearing a sound like an earthquake. However, his brother' s family of 16 people who lived no more than 10 meters from him was buried in the sludge and was not found.
The mud-rock flow leveled an area about 5 km long, 300 meters wide and 5 meters deep in the county seat with more than 1.8 million cubic meters of mud and rocks which severely damaged power, telecommunication, and water supply facilities.
As of 2 p.m Thursday, the mudslide had left 1,364 people dead and 401 others missing, the local disaster relief headquarters announced.
Shang and his wife have moved to his second home in the county, which has not been affected by the mudslide. "Several days later I will go back to farming on my other 4 mu farmland."
While survivors are mourning and recollecting happy times in the past, the search for bodies continues. On Wednesday, more than 10 days after the tragedy, people were still gathering on the mud-rock flow either to dig with shovels or to watch the excavators dig, with the hope of finding the bodies of their relatives and know they would be buried properly. Their eyes welled up with tears whenever talking about their losses.
Yang Haiqin was standing on a hillock, staring at an excavator digging for his brother' s family. Nine people were killed, including a pregnant woman due to give birth in 10 days.