Despite killer quake, Longtoushan residents still love the land

The people of Longtoushan township are reaffirming their love for their land even though Sunday′s earthquake turned their world upside down.

Yesterday, Gan Kaiying, 54, displayed her produce on the porch next to the rubble of her collapsed house.

"These Sichuan green peppers were picked on the day of the earthquake. Today is the first day for me to air them out," said Gan, whose family of five all survived the quake that killed nearly 600 people in Yunnan province.

Pan Mingfen, 40, whose family has lived in Longtoushan township for four generations, was not so fortunate. She lost her sister-in-law and niece in the earthquake, and her two-storey wool shop was flattened.

But she too has no plans to leave. "We have three mu of Sichuan green pepper land, and this brings us 20,000 yuan (HK$25,500) a year, the same amount of income from our wool business," Pan said. "I know it is a quake-vulnerable zone, and we are afraid. But we are too poor to move elsewhere."

Wang Ping, another green pepper farmer, lost her husband and elder son, whose bodies are still waiting to be dug out, in the earthquake.

They moved from Sichuan province 13 years ago to Longtoushan township where her husband worked as an electrician. "We have felt the quakes in the past few years, but life is comfortable here, and the weather is nice, not as humid as in Sichuan. ," Wang said.

"We make a stable living here, and our apartment is only 3,000 yuan a year."

Tang Mingchun, 23, who is training to be a Chinese language teacher, said tens of millions of people reside in the quake-vulnerable zone so it was impractical to consider moving away.

"No matter how poor we are, we will not move … ," she said. "Our roots lie with our land. If we move elsewhere, we have nothing. Even though it′s dangerous, we will try our best to make a life here."


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