The Ecological Costs of a Human Tragedy
Along with taking tens of thousands of lives and destroying property worth tens of billions of yuan, the earthquake also damaged the ecological balance in the region. Hard-hit areas such as Pengzhou and Dujiangyan are home to national forests, nature reserves and cultural heritage sites. Over 1,550 kilometres of forest roads, 26,670 hectares of forest, and vegetation covering 10,000 hectares of the Baishui River Nature Reserve have been damaged or destroyed. Huge quantities of antiseptic disinfectants are threatening to pollute rivers that are sources of drinking water. In some areas the rubble and human remains have yet to be cleared, increasing the risk of disease and further building collapses. Although these these areas have been declared “no-go zones,” they are sometimes little more than a kilometre – and sometimes only several hundred metres – away from the prefabricated buildings housing survivors. These circumstances make the living in earthquake devastated areas a bleak prospect.