China Focus: Rescue is priority in quake relief: premier
                 English.news.cn | 2014-08-05 07:11:15 | Editor: Mengjie

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang walks into Longtoushan Township of Ludian County to examine the situation of the earthquake and instruct the quake relief work in southwest China's Yunnan Province, Aug. 4, 2014. (Xinhua/Yao Dawei)

LUDIAN, Yunnan, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- Premier Li Keqiang on Monday visited the epicenter of Sunday's deadly Yunnan earthquake, saying no effort must be spared to save lives in the relief work.

After flying to Yunnan Province in southwest China from Beijing, Li immediately went to Longtoushan Township, the site of the epicenter and where the casualties and building demolitions were highest.

The quake occurred at 4:30 p.m. Sunday (Beijing Time) with a depth of 12 km, killing at least 398 people. It was the worst to jolt the region in 100 years, causing higher-than-expected losses.

As the road to the epicenter is under restoration, Li stepped out of his vehicle and walked over five km by bumpy paths to reach Longquan Village, the most severely hit village in the quake.

Li asked villagers whether their family members were injured and whether they have shelter, saying that the authority will help them to overcome difficulties.

He climbed the ruins of a house, urging soldiers involved in rescue work at the site to race to save people buried under the debris, as well as to restore roads and communication.

"Saving one more person means saving the happiness of a whole family," Li told soldiers. "Saving lives is the top priority. Don't stop! Spare no effort!"

Li told local officials that the central government is now allocating and transporting tents, urging them to evacuate all people living in damaged houses by searching door to door so as to avoid new casualties.

As some officials told Li that the quake-hit area is short of food and other supplies as roads have been cut off, the premier ordered air-drops of food and medicine, and authorities to ensure people have food and clean water.

Li visited a shelter for displaced people, entering people's tents to check their living conditions and encourage quake victims.

He also visited a temporary clinic set up at the middle school of Longtoushan Township, checking medicine supplies and urging medical staff to keep the death rate and disability rate as low as possible. He called on officials to allocate disinfectant and strengthen disease prevention to ward off epidemics.

Earlier, aboard the plane bound to Yunnan, Li held a meeting to guide disaster relief work.

There is no time to delay the rescue, Li told senior officials of central government departments, the People's Liberation Army and the Armed Police during the meeting.

He urged the greatest efforts to search for the missing and rescue those buried under the debris.

"We can never give up until the last minute," he said.

Rescuers must be wary of secondary disasters like landslides to prevent more casualties, as the possibility of strong aftershocks of five to six magnitude cannot be ruled out, he said.

He also called for all-out efforts to treat the injured and transfer those suffering serious injuries to better hospitals in nearby regions.

The government will use this time to relocate residents and allocate more food, tents and medicine to the quake zone.

"We must ensure people have access to food, clothes, safe dwelling places and clean water," Li added.

Information about the rescue, epidemic prevention, relocation of the affected people, and repair of infrastructure must be open and transparent so as to boost confidence in the quake relief, he also said.

He suggested a unified commanding system so that demands raised during the quake relief can be met effectively, while farmers should be provided with subsidies to ensure that agricultural production resumes soon.

Roads plus electricity and telecommunications facilities must be repaired as soon as possible to pave the way for the relief, Li also urged.

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