Page last updated at 15:04 GMT, Saturday, 17 May 2008 16:04 UK

Uncertain times for quake survivors

By Daniel Griffiths
BBC News, Dujiangyan, China

Ma Yanyou in the ruins of his home
An estimated five million people were left homeless by the earthquake

Early morning in the city of Dujiangyan and Ma Yanyou is wandering through the ruins of what were once both his home and his restaurant business.

He is a chubby forty-something dressed in what seems to be the standard uniform for a Chinese businessman - black leather jacket, black t-shirt, black trousers and black shoes.

A man on the up, but that was before Monday's earthquake.

"I used to run the restaurant with my brother," Mr Ma told me. "I don't know what I am going to do now."

Complete devastation

We are standing on a pile of rubble. Bricks and wooden rafters are strewn across the ground and much of the roof now lies on the floor of what was the restaurant.

I just don't know what's going to happen next
Ma Yanyou

It is a scene of complete devastation.

One bedroom is still standing. Inside there are children's books scattered over the bed and floor.

Looking on are Mr Ma's extended family. They used to live here - all 18 relatives - but two people are not here.

Mr Ma's elderly mother tells me that one son and grandson are still in Wenchuan, a city nearer the epicentre of the earthquake, and everyone is worried.


For the time being Mr Ma and his entire family are squeezed into a tiny building nearby with just two bedrooms. His niece, Ma Lan, shows me around.

"Ten of us sleep in this one room," she tells me.

It is small and cramped with all their clothes heaped up at one end. Three cages with songbirds inside are suspended from a wire that runs the length of the room.

"The authorities have really helped us," she adds. "They've given us food and water, but having said that we still don't have electricity."

'Really scared'

The Ma family is also sharing this place with their friend, Mr Zhou.

Mr Zhou has been on the phone all morning - his 17-year-old daughter was also in Wenchuan when the quake struck. He has just heard she's OK.

The Ma family
Nearly all of Ma Yanyou's relatives are sharing a two-bedroom house nearby

He says she has also managed to make contact with Mr Ma's missing relatives, but it is not all good news.

"She's really scared," he tells me. "She keeps telling me not to go there. She knows I'll try to go to Wenchuan to look for her, but it's too dangerous."

These are very uncertain times for the survivors of the earthquake.

Back in the rubble of his restaurant, Mr Ma shakes his head.

"I just don't know what's going to happen next," he explains.

That is a sentiment perhaps felt by many of the estimated five million people left homeless by the earthquake.

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