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Quake survivors visit

LI Bin, 44, deputy director of Beichuan County, one of the areas worst-hit by the magnitude-8.0 Sichuan earthquake two years ago, said at Expo that he regarded yesterday as his second birthday.

Li remembers the day well because he was dug out from debris by colleagues after being buried for two hours after the earthquake.

"Scenes of the past leap before my eyes and the sorrow in my heart hasn't changed over the two years," he said.

Li joined other quake survivors invited to World Expo Shanghai yesterday for the second anniversary of one of the deadliest disasters in China's history in which more than 87,000 people died or were still missing.

Visitors yesterday flocked to an earthquake simulation experience room at the Puxi site and watched film and pictures portraying the current lives of quake victims in the Sichuan Pavilion at the Pudong site.

Li was invited to experience the simulation, in which around 20 people stand in a container that trembles up and down and then sideways for five minutes to simulate a magnitude-8.0 earthquake.

"It is different, totally different," he said after the experience at around 2:28pm when the disaster hit Sichuan Province in 2008.

People in the simulation were able to prepare and hold onto hand rings, but the quake victims had nothing when the disaster struck, Li said.

The deputy county chief said quake victims had "walked out from the shadow" of the disaster and could move to new homes before the Spring Festival next year on February 3.

Long queues formed in front of the simulation room yesterday in the Broad Pavilion, a Hunan-based Chinese air-conditioning manufacturer. Staff said the pavilion - which is built to sustain an earthquake of up to magnitude 9 - had no queues since it opened on May 1 until yesterday.

"Many more people come to experience the quake," said staff member Zhen Fang.

Other guests from the quake-hit areas included a dozen residents from badly-hit Mianzhu, who all suffered disability from the disaster.

The group visited the Chinese and French pavilions, as well as the Life & Sunshine Pavilion for disadvantaged people.

"The Sunshine Pavilion is very encouraging and the France Pavilion quite luxurious," said Yu Zhengying from her wheel chair with a big smile.

"But my favorite is still the Sichuan Pavilion in the provincial section of the China Pavilion," she added.

"The Sichuan Pavilion shows the transformation of our hometown, especially reconstruction. I was greatly touched and encouraged."

Yu, who lost both her lower legs in the earthquake, is determined to share the pictures and her experience with neighbors and those in her support groups back in Mianzhu County.

Many films of reconstruction of quake-hit areas were popular with pavilion patrons yesterday.

"I wish I was a little younger so that I could volunteer at the pavilion to tell stories about the earthquake to Expo visitors," said Zhen Songqin, 70, from Dujiangyan City, Sichuan.


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