With the death toll from China’s earthquake mounting, the disaster is throwing a harsh spotlight on the widening gap between the nation’s rich and poor.
Soldiers and paramilitary police rushed to dig victims out from collapsed schools, homes and hospitals. As the grim work continues, it is increasingly clear that the quake inflicted its greatest destruction on rural areas and on the smaller towns and cities that have mushroomed from farm fields in recent years as part of China’s rapid urbanization.
Such areas have far less stringent building-safety practices than China’s relatively wealthy big cities, construction experts say. As a result, some citizens were more vulnerable than others when disaster struck.