|An injured young girl is transferred to an ambulance in quake-hit Longtoushan Township of Ludian County, southwest China's Yunnan Province, Aug. 4, 2014. At least 398 people have been killed after a 6.5-magnitude earthquake rattled the province Sunday afternoon. (Xinhua/Hu Chao)
BEIJING, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- The operators of China's railways, roads and airlines have been introducing special services to ferry rescuers and relief supplies to southwestern province of Yunnan in the wake of Sunday's heavy earthquake.
As the death toll from the 6.5-magnitude quake hits 398 with three missing, rescuers are racing against the clock to save lives, and transport to the remote region could prove a decisive factor.
Unscheduled train "Rescue 002" carrying rice, instant noodles and mineral water as well as relief staff arrived in quake-hit Zhaotong City at 6 p.m. after departing from provincial capital Kunming at noon, according to the China Railway Corporation.
The Chengdu Railway Bureau in neighboring Sichuan Province has also dispatched an unscheduled train consisting of 49 platform lorries to Zhaotong.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Transport has initiated an emergency mechanism to repair quake-damaged roads leading to the area.
Extra aircraft have also been drafted in.
Two planes operated by the Hubei Branch of China Southern Airlines transported 523 batches of relief supplies, including clothing, gloves, shovels and food, with a total weight of 5,901 kg, on Monday afternoon.
Flight MU 5969, operated by China Eastern Airlines, ferried a team of nearly 30 relief workers from Kunming to Zhaotong at 10 a.m. on Monday, the company told Xinhua.
Two flights operated by China Eastern delivered 148 relief workers to Zhaotong late on Sunday evening.
Another MU 5989 landed in the city with more rescuers on Monday evening, the company added.
Authorities have sent 7,000 rescuers, including 5,000 soldiers, police officers and firefighters, to Zhaotong and Qujing City.
The rescue work has been hampered by heavy rain, which has disrupted traffic, lowered temperatures and made food and medicine shortages even more serious.
"The blocked roads and the continuous downpours have left some disaster areas inaccessible for heavy relief vehicles," said Liu Jianhua, secretary of the Zhaotong Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China.
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.
As of 2 p.m. on Monday, the quake had affected 1.08 million people in Zhaotong and Qujing, injured 1,801 and necessitated the emergency evacuation of about 230,000, according to the Yunnan Civil Affairs Department.
Nearly 80,000 houses have collapsed and 124,000 others were seriously damaged, the department said.
Thunderstorms are expected in Ludian County, one of the worst-hit regions, over the next four days, and temperatures could drop to 17 degrees Celsius at night.