Qin Zhengyu shows moles and tumours on her back in her home at Heshan village, in Shimen county, central...
Qin Zhengyu, 78, shows moles and tumours on her back in her home at Heshan village, in Shimen county, central China's Hunan Province, in this June 4, 2014 file photo.
Heshan is in an area rich in realgar, or arsenic disulphide, and is sometimes given the grim label 'cancer village'. Factories and mines sprang up to process this precious resource but they were shut down in 2011 because of the pollution they caused. Heshan residents say that many have died from cancer caused by arsenic poisoning.
I am no stranger to death and during my coverage of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, I was witness to huge-scale tragedy. But this was the first time I saw people who lived as though they had a sword hanging over their heads all the time the desperation and hopelessness were unimaginable. - Jason Lee
REUTERS/Jason Lee (CHINA - Tags: BUSINESS HEALTH SOCIETY)
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