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Xinhua reporters witness suffering and salvage in Chinese quake epicenter area
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21:24, May 14, 2008

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· 7.8 Richter scale earthquake hits SW China
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A total of four Xinhua reporters Wednesday arrived in the epicenter area of the 7.8-magnitude quake in southwestern Sichuan Province, traveling by air, land and water with Chinese troops.

Reporters Li Xuanliang and Huang Shubo hiked with PLA soldiers into the Wenchuan County at 16:00 on Wednesday afternoon, and were20 kilometers from Yingxiu Town, one of the most badly damaged area in Wenchuan.

On their way, they met a lot of people who fled Yingxiu, which was cut off from water and power for about two days. Most of the survivors were going to Zipingbu in Dujiangyan City, which is about 20 kilometers away. Only a few remained in the town.

Many people carried their injured family members and relatives with stretchers or slide bars, the local type of simplified rickshaw. Some of the injured were apparently dying.

A woman carried a dead infant wrapped in white clothes as if the baby was alive and hiked forward with her husband.

Some people carried their aged parents on wheelbarrows. "Our town is badly in need of drugs and drinking water," a survivor said.

"We saw PLA soldiers and armed police marching toward the disaster-hit area one group after another, and lots of ordinary people from the direction of Dujiangyan and migrant workers from other parts of the country coming to the rescue of their relatives," said one of the reporters.

Another reporter, Xu Zhuangzhi helicoptered into the county seat of Wenchuan, 100 kilometers away from the provincial capital city of Chengdu, at 10:22 a.m. Wednesday.

"The damage was devastating in one of its towns, Yingxiu," said Xu. "They are badly in need of food and drugs."

The soldiers, from the Chengdu Military Area Command, have set up a communication center and had connected Wenchuan with the disaster-relief headquarters in Dujiangyan, Xu said.

A team of 30 medical workers from the same military command flew to the county in the afternoon to supplement the telecommunications team with whom Xu flew in.

After landing, soldiers immediately began unloading supplies. Dozens of villagers helped the soldiers move supplies to their village.

"More than a dozen people died in our village and we are badly in need of food and water," one villager told Xu. "We've been looking forward to some aid, and you finally come."

"It's a pity the supplies we could bring are limited," said head of the helicopter brigade Tang Chun. They had tried but failed to fly to Wenchuan for the past two days, because of bad weather.

"We should try to do more rescue work today," Tang said.

Xu's helicopter then flew to neighboring Yingxiu Town to carryinjured people back to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province.

Meanwhile, reporter Zhu Yingtao arrived in Yingniu at around 11:30 a.m., also with PLA soldiers, traveling by boat and on foot.

They saw hundreds of people fleeing the town. "They all looked to be on the edge of collapsing because of fear and fatigue," said Zhu.

"I saw an almost 100-meter road bridge, which had broken and fallen into the Minjiang River near the town," said Zhu. The bridge was later identified as Baihua Bridge.

He said he saw rubble and debris from collapsed houses and buildings along the Minjiang river during a boat trip from Chengduto Wenchuan.

Source: Xinhua

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