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China Focus: Massive rescue under way after Yunnan quake

English.news.cn   2014-08-04 15:41:43

Rescuers convey an injured villager at quake-hit Longquan Village of Longtoushan Town in Ludian County, southwest China's Yunnan Province, Aug. 4, 2014. At least 381 people have been killed after a 6.5-magnitude earthquake rattled the province Sunday afternoon. (Xinhua/Wu Zhangjun)

LUDIAN, Yunnan, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- The death toll from a 6.5-magnitude earthquake in southwest China's Yunnan Province has risen to 398 with three missing, latest official statistics showed Monday.

As of 2 p.m. Monday, the strong quake had affected 1.08 million people in Zhaotong City and Qujing City, injured 1,801 and caused an emergency evacuation of about 230,000, said the Yunnan Civil Affairs Department.

Nearly 80,000 houses had collapsed and 124,000 others were seriously damaged, the department said.

The deaths included 319 in Ludian County, 66 in Qiaojia County, one in Zhaoyang District and 12 in Huize County. Three are missing in Qiaojia.

Rescuers are racing against time to save lives after the quake struck at 4:30 p.m. Sunday (Beijing Time) with a depth of 12 km. The epicenter is in Longtoushan Township, Ludian County.

Yunnan has sent 7,000 rescuers, including 5,000 soldiers, police officers and firefighters, to the quake-hit areas in Zhaotong City and Qujing City.

The rescue work has been hampered by continuous downpours, which have disrupted traffic, lowered temperatures in the remote area, and made food and medicine shortages even more dangerous.

Thundershowers and downpours are expected in Ludian County, one of the worst-hit regions, over the next four days, and temperatures could drop to 17 degrees centigrade at night.

Premier Li Keqiang has flown to the quake-hit area to direct rescue work.

Rescuers are evacuating residents threatened by a quake lake, which was formed in Jiangbian Village, Zhixiang Township of Huize County and has inundated 20 village houses.

The water level of the lake is surging rapidly at a speed of one meter per hour. The lake was formed following a landslide that occurred in the upper reaches of the Hongshiyan hydropower station, which is under construction.

Xinhua journalists in Ludian County seat saw drenched survivors sitting along the muddy roads waiting for food and medication. Some half-naked survivors were trembling in the rain.

Medics in Ludian's Longquan Village told Xinhua that they have severe shortages of medicine and local conditions are too poor to perform operations for the severely injured.

"The critically injured patients keep coming, but we are unable to carry out operations for many of them," one of the doctors working at a makeshift tent in the village said. "It is impossible to deal with severe injuries such as intracranial hemorrhage in such conditions."

Frequent aftershocks have followed the earthquake since it first struck on Sunday afternoon. Yunnan officials have called the earthquake the most powerful to hit the quake-vulnerable province in the past 14 years.

China Earthquake Administration said that as of 8 a.m. Monday, 411 aftershocks had been recorded in the quake-hit region, with four measuring between 4.0 and 4.9 magnitude and five between 3.0 and 3.9 magnitude.

Local seismic experts have warned that aftershocks measuring 5 to 6 on the Richter scale are possible in the area, but ruled out the possibility of stronger quakes at the epicenter.

Earlier official statistics showed that as many as 57,200 people in Zhaotong are waiting to be evacuated.

"The blocked roads and the continuous downpours have made some disaster areas inaccessible for heavy relief vehicles," said Liu Jianhua, Secretary of the Communist Party of China Zhaotong Municipal Committee.

Liu said they are experiencing a severe shortage of professional rescue teams and facilities. "With the roads blocked, it is difficult to carry out more relief work," Liu added.

Traffic on a lifeline linking the epicenter of Longtoushan Township, Ludian County and the county seat eased Monday morning after hours of gridlock after the quake. Large numbers of the injured are being transferred to the county's hospital via the road by ambulance.

Officials with the Yunnan Provincial Department of Civil Affairs told Xinhua that a large number of tents, cotton quilts and fold-out beds had been stored in Zhaotong and Ludian, but there have been problems having them delivered to the quake-hit areas.

The 11th Panchen Lama, Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, told Xinhua that he was grieving over the quake and prayed for the living to avoid suffering and the deceased to receive early relief.

Editor: Mengjie
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