Torch Returns to China Following Aftershocks

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SICHUAN PROVINCE, China -- The Olympic torch began its tour of China's earthquake-ravaged Sichuan province.

This is the last stop for the Olympic flame before it heads to Beijing for Friday's opening ceremonies.

Just before the Olympic torch arrived this weekend, 17-year-old Wang Yiyue climbed up this mountain for a glimpse of what used to be her village.

This is her first time back to Beichuan, the town hit hardest by China's earthquake on May 12th.

"This was my home, I was born here. Now look at it," Yiyue said.

Click the play button for more with Joel Thornton from the International Human Rights Group.  He spoke with CBN News about the Christians who will be spreading the Gospel during the Olympics, and the dangers they face.

Nestled in one of the most beautiful valleys here in Sichuan Province, Beichuan was just too close to the earthquake's epicenter to stand a chance.

"I lost two grandparents here and so many of my friends are dead," she said.

Up to 8,600 people died in Beichuan when the 7.9 earthquake struck. More than 5,800 are missing.

Today, one of the mountains that overlook the village has become a gathering point for survivors and visitors from across the country.

"The authorities have erected this barbed wire fence all along this mountain top to prevent folks from going into Beichuan County. The ultimate goal is to leave all this destruction as is and turn this place into a memorial.

"I think building a memorial is a great idea. People need to remember just how bad this earthquake really was," a resident said.

This weekend, in the refugee camps lining the road to Beichuan, survivors were getting ready to welcome the Olympic flame. One has to wonder how will this feel for grief-stricken survivors.

"It will be a difficult moment for me in light of what I have experienced these last few months but that doesn't matter, this is our opportunity to shine on the world stage," a resident said.

Three months after the earthquake left 70,000 dead, 18,000 missing, 400,000 injured, and some 5 million homeless, many are still living under tarps and afraid to return to their damaged homes. A fresh 6.1 magnitude aftershock jolted the region on Friday, injuring more than 300 people and leaving many here on edge.

Across the region, the Chinese government is pumping money and manpower into rebuilding the shattered province.

Survivors seem grateful and say they don't want their suffering to take away from the excitement of the Olympics.

"This is a glorious occasion for us and although we have suffered a horrible disaster we don't want the country to be sad for us," another resident said.

The Olympic torch will make several stops across the region before it heads to Beijing for Friday's opening ceremony of the Games.

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George Thomas

George Thomas

CBN News Senior Reporter

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