Page last updated at 17:55 GMT, Wednesday, 14 May 2008 18:55 UK

China quake survivors rally together

By Michael Bristow
BBC News, Mianyang, China

Xiao Min outside her home
Houses have been destroyed and people have little food and water
There were collapsed buildings all along the road to Beichuan, the mountainous district close to the epicentre of the biggest earthquake to hit China in 30 years.

People who had lost everything could be seen picking through the remains of their former homes, looking for anything to salvage.

Outside a house with a sagging roof and cracked walls, its owner, Xiao Min, was busy feeding her chickens and geese, trying to continue her life as normal.

She showed the BBC inside her home, which was strewn with debris. Chairs were overturned and crockery lay broken on the floor.

When the 46-year-old mother-of-two came out of her house, she was clutching an armful of clothes to take to the tent the family are now living in.

People in this area are short of basic necessities.

Groups of villagers lined the main road leading through the district, holding up signs that said simply: "No food, no water".

They were hoping motorists would stop and give them something. Mrs Xiao was overjoyed when one did pull up to give her a watermelon.

Tearful reunion

With their homes destroyed and little food or water, many people have left the area.

Thousands of those have gone to Mianyang, where a sports stadium on the outskirts of the city has become a large camp for the displaced.

Zuo Ying at the moment she found her mother
Zuo Ying was at work when the quake destroyed her family's home
Many of those milling around outside were looking for friends and relatives they had not seen since the earthquake struck on Monday.

One young woman, 18-year-old Zuo Ying, was desperate to find her mother, father and little sister.

She had not heard from them since the disaster.

She had been working in a factory in Mianyang when the earthquake destroyed her family's home in Beichuan.

The emotion was too much when she finally did meet her mother - neither women could hold back the tears.

Just outside the entrance to the stadium, there was a massive pile of clothes that had been donated for those in need.

Du Yingbi, one local woman who had not been too badly affected by the earthquake, had paid for and brought food and water to the stadium.

"I did it because we are all Chinese people - we've got to help," the 42-year-old said.

Others, such as Ling Lidong, had simply turned up to volunteer their help. Mr Ling was helping the police organise people who were trying to get into the stadium.

Suddenly, as he was issuing orders, dozens of people already inside came running out in a panic. They said there had been an aftershock and wanted to get out into the open.

It was a reminder that people left homeless and hungry by this massive earthquake are still scared.

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