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China quake rescuers battle landslides, debris

The death toll in Saturday’s earthquake in China’s Sichuan province rose to 188 today even as the window to rescue remaining survivors rapidly narrowed.

world Updated: Apr 22, 2013 18:53 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The death toll in Saturday’s earthquake in China’s Sichuan province rose to 188 on Monday even as the window to rescue remaining survivors rapidly narrowed.

More than two dozen people are still missing.

Authorities said more than 1.5 million have been affected by the 7 magnitude quake that shook parts of the southwestern province on Saturday morning.

Villages were flattened and buildings crumbled like card houses as the earthquake rumbled for nearly 20 seconds.

Rescue work was hampered by more than 2300 aftershocks. The shocks made it dangerous for rescue workers as already damaged houses became potential deathtraps.



A woman whose relatives were killed in Saturday's earthquake cries while sitting on a pile of rubble in Lingguan township in Baoxing county of southwest China's Sichuan province. AP


"Rescuers are racing against the "critical first 72 hours after the disaster" to comb the quake rubble and reach every household in the epicenter of Lushan and its neighboring counties affected by the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that jolted the city of Ya'an early on Saturday.

A total of 2,360 aftershocks have been recorded in quake-hit Lushan County as of 4pm Beijing time on Monday, with four measured above 5.0 magnitude, the China Earthquake Administration (CEA) said.

Niu Zhijun, deputy head of the CEA, urged close monitoring of aftershocks, full implementation of earthquake relief work, coordination with local authorities to ensure rescue work and strengthened examinations in crucial areas to search for survivors.



Soldiers unload relief supplies from a helicopter at the quake ravaged Longmen township in Lushan county of southwest China's Sichuan province. AP


Lushan is about 200km from the epicenter of the massive Wenchuan earthquake that left 87,000 dead or missing five years ago.

The Chinese government has earmarked 1 billion Yuan (about $160 million) for disaster relief efforts.

"The fund will be used for rescue and relief work, the relocation of people affected by the quake, medical treatment, subsidies for the victims' families, as well as for repairing damaged public facilities," state-run Xinhua reported.



A woman whose relatives were killed in Saturday's earthquake cries while sitting on a pile of rubble in Lingguan township in Baoxing county of southwest China's Sichuan province. AP


Armed forces involved in the relief mission have been ordered to reach every village and all households in the affected areas to rescue survivors and treat the injured, the rescue headquarters of the Chengdu Military Area Command said.

A total of 18,000 soldiers and officers from China's military and armed police forces and members of paramilitary reserve forces have been sent to the affected areas, and so far 10,000 have reached areas which are seriously stricken.



Residents displaced by Saturday's earthquake stand outside tents set up in Lushan county in southwestern China's Sichuan province. AP
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