LUDIAN, Yunnan, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- Rescuers are risking their lives as they work to resume road traffic in the mountainous quake-ravaged areas of southwest China's Yunnan Province.
As difficult relief operations entered the second day, roads leading to Longtoushan Township, epicenter of Sunday's tremor, have become passable. But they may soon be blocked once more as rain-triggered landslides threaten transport routes, said a spokesman with the traffic bureau of Zhaotong City, which administers Longtoushan in Ludian County.
Traffic control has been imposed on a major lifeline linking Ludian's county seat and Longtoushan, prioritizing ambulances and vehicles carrying relief goods. By 7 p.m. Monday, Zhaotong had dispatched nearly 800 medics and over 130 ambulances to Longtoushan.
As of 8 p.m. Monday, the bureau had mobilized more than 5,700 workers, along with 800 diggers, loaders and trailers, to clean up roads following the 6.5-magnitude quake that has left at least 410 people dead.
The workers are repairing roads destroyed in the worst-hit Ludian and Qiaojia counties. However, their efforts have been hindered by continuous downpours, falling rocks and aftershocks, said the spokesman.
One major road linking Zhaotong and Qiaojia has seen 141 sections with a length of 2,277 km damaged. Workers are tasked with removing 25 million cubic meters of debris left by 2,251 cave-ins, he said.
In addition, rescuers have resumed electricity supply for three quarters of the more than 38,000 households in Zhaotong suffering power cuts following the disaster, and communications have basically been restored, according to the local grid company and telecom operators.
The disaster has also harmed 19 small reservoirs near the epicenter, affecting drinking water for 304,000 people, according to the provincial water resources department.
Workers have begun discharging water from two reservoirs with cracks caused by the quake.
A huge quake lake containing more than 3,000 cubic meters of water has inundated dozens of homes and continues to threaten nearby villages, said local hydrological officials.
The lake was formed in Jiangbian Village, Zhixiang Township of Huize County following a landslide that occurred in the upper reaches of the Hongshiyan hydropower station, which is under construction.
Its water level is increasing at a speed of 30 cm per hour, putting seven power stations in the lower reaches in danger, the officials said.
On Monday afternoon, an army surgeon with Yunnan's border defense troops went missing after attempting to swim through another quake lake to reach Guangming Village, where a villager had asked for help to find his lost wife.