Chinese Villagers Prefer to Go Home, Even If It’s in Ruins

In the International Herald Tribune, Howard French writes about victims of the earthquake who are continuing with their lives in the devastated region:

By a long measure, Shenxi, which lies only 11 kilometers, or 7 miles, from the epicenter, is far from the most stricken place in Sichuan, where the death toll has risen above 67,000. Of the hamlet’s 180 residents, four died; two remain missing. Still, the obstacles the survivors face, and their pluck in attempting to refashion their lives, are emblematic of the struggle faced by countless others in small towns throughout the thousands of square kilometers of the earthquake zone.

On May 15, three days after the earthquake, Xiong and others from the village had picked their way off the mountain, taking a dozen hours to reach the nearest town. Most ended up at a resettlement site in central Chengdu, the large provincial capital. But many said the idea of living as refugees, paired with distaste for city life, drove them to return home.

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