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Predicted rain could hamper rescuers

By Guo Anfei, Xu wei and Wang Xiaodong (China Daily)

08:42, September 11, 2012

Heavy rain forecast for a mountainous earthquake-hit area in Southwest China could trigger other disasters and hamper rescue efforts, an expert warned.

"The rain may cause landslides and mudslides in an area already made vulnerable by two earthquakes and continual aftershocks," said Zhang Jianguo, director of Yunnan Earthquake Administration's Institute for Disaster Prevention.

"This could pose a danger to the survivors and add obstacles to rescuers."

According to Yunnan's Meteorological Bureau, heavy rain will hit Yiliang county, the area hit hardest by Friday's earthquakes, on Tuesday and Wednesday, with temperatures dropping by more than 10 C.

The bureau said on its website that it sent a senior weather forecaster and three other experts to Yiliang on Monday to monitor the weather and provide other assistance.

Li Lianju, deputy director of the Yunnan Land and Resources Department, said the bureau has sent 30 experts to villages that are at risk of geological disasters to monitor and issue alarms.

The two earthquakes, with magnitudes of 5.7 and 5.6, caused 81 deaths and injured more than 800 people, affecting a total of 744,000 people in the province.

The central government has set aside 1.05 billion yuan ($160 million) for disaster relief, and more than 7,000 rescuers, including soldiers, police officers, doctors and officials, are working round-the-clock on relief efforts.

About 192,000 people affected by the earthquake have been resettled, according to the civil affairs department of Yunnan.

Several factors are behind the heavy earthquake casualties, Zhang said.

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