Quake-flattened Beichuan County opens for Tomb Sweeping festival
Almost two years after the May 12 quake, mourners entered the devastated Beichuan County in southwest China's Sichuan Province to mark the Tomb Sweeping Festival, the Chinese day for honoring ancestors and the deceased, which falls on Monday.
From Saturday, bereaved families brought flowers, incense and candles and set off firecrackers among the ruins of the shattered concrete buildings and narrow roads.
"It's almost two years. I still feel sad when I think of them," said Liu Daiguo, whose two sisters were buried in the collapsed building. "Every time the old county seat is open, I will light a incense for them."
"We come to see you," said Han Xiaolin, who knelt beside the ruins of the former Maoba Middle School to honor her uncle, a teacher buried in the quake-triggered landslide. "Grandma and my child are well. You bless us all."
She and her husband burnt bundles of paper money, traditionally intended to help the dead in the afterlife.
"There is good news. The construction of the new county seat will be finished this year," she murmured. "There are hills and water in the new town. It will be very beautiful."
Almost 21,000 people, two-thirds of Beichuan county seat's population, died or disappeared in the earthquake. The government decided not to rebuild the town, but instead to turn the area into an earthquake museum.
The old county seat has been closed since the quake except for certain periods such as the quake anniversary, the Spring Festival and the Tomb Sweeping Festival, or Qingming, for public commemorations.