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The Sky Weeps for Sichuan

Field journal: the jottings of EO reporters sent from Chengdu, 92 km from the epicenter of the earthquake occurred on May 12.

Since the wee hours of May 13, the sky had opened up and poured in parts of Sichuan province, adding obstacles to rescue efforts in the earthquake hit areas.

Twenty-two hours had passed since the magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Wenchuan county in Sichuan, yet the road leading to the epicenter was still blocked by a landslide occurred a day earlier.

Chinese Premiere Wen Jiaboa had directed that the access road to Wenchuan be cleared and ready for passage by midnight today. However, the rain added risk that the already cleared stretch would collapse again.

The clock was ticking. In Dujiangyan, everyone was racing against time, sharing the pain and anxiety that must have been felt by those still trapped under piles of debris.

A secondary school had collapsed there, and more machinery such as excavator and crane were needed to speed up the rescue work. The Chengdu local government had appealed for more ambulances and power generators from various sources, including the public.

Amidst the gloom, the EO received a beacon of hope from a man named Hu, whom shared a bus with these reporters the day before on his way to Wenchuan in search of his newly-wed wife.

Though yet to be reunited with his wife, Hu had managed to get in touch with the wife and elder brother, both working for the Water Resources Bureau in Wenchuan, and confirmed that they and most of their colleagues survived.

"Once the road is re-opened, my brother will send a car over to fetch me home," Hu said.

The sky continued to weep. Just a day ago, Chengdu was still a sunshine city known for its fine weather for outdoor activities, yet overnight it had become a city desperate for aid.

Sichuan province suffered the most from the earthquake on Monday, but nearby provinces also sustained damages from tremors. Casualties and property damages had been reported in Gansu, Shaanxi and Yunan provinces as well as Chongqing municipality.By afternoon on May 13, Chinese government official estimated that the death toll was over 10,000.

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