China quake toll hits 615, more than 100 missing

  • Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Beijing
  • Updated: Aug 07, 2014 18:49 IST

The death toll from Sunday's earthquake in southwest China has risen to 615 with the possibility of finding survivors diminishing rapidly. Rescue workers continued on Thursday to dig through the rubble.

The formation of a lake after the quake has added to the problem, forcing authorities to evacuate thousands after their homes were submerged.

At least 114 people are still missing in the Ludian and Qiaojia areas of Yunnan province where the 6.5 Richter-scale earthquake struck on Sunday afternoon.

The death toll is likely to rise further with relief workers now looking at a new site of the disaster where, according to state media, dozens of residents and at least 20 vehicles were possibly buried in a landslide triggered by the strong quake.

More than 3000 were injured in the quake, one of the worst to hit the region in over a decade.

"Near the border of Ludian and Qiaojia, a barrier lake has led to the evacuation of 4,200 residents from the lower reaches of the Niulan River," state media reported.

Sun Huaikun, in charge of the barrier lake response, told official news agency, Xinhua, that the reservoir on the upper reaches is intercepting river water to reduce pressure on the lake, while two hydropower stations on the lower reaches are speeding up the discharge of water.

"It has already flooded about 370 homes and residents have fled leaving almost all of their belongings behind, the report added.

"Over 15km long, it covers 49 sq km and the water level continues to rise," Qiu Guangliang, head of the Huize County Water Authority, said. The army plans to use about 2 tonnes of dynamite to blow up blockage which formed the lake.

There were the stray stories of hope and miracle.

"Two senior residents of Babao Village, aged 88 and 76, were pulled from the debris about 50 hours after the disaster. Both are in a stable condition," the report said.

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