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First rescuers reach isolated SW China county


13:48, April 21, 2013

LUSHAN, Sichuan, April 21 (Xinhua) -- The first rescuers have reached an isolated county in southwest China's Sichuan Province hit by Saturday's strong earthquake, a police source said here Sunday.

According to reports from firefighters who have reached Baoxing County of Ya'an in Sichuan, local residents' homes were badly damaged by the quake.

However, the detailed situation in the county is still not clear due to the poor quality of communication between field rescuers and headquarters, said the Ministry of Public Security rescue headquarters in Lushan.

The rescuers are divided into several groups looking for survivors in the townlets of the county, especially Wulong, Mingli, Longdong and Yongfu villages, which remain out of contact with the headquarters, the police source said.

Rescuers on Saturday reached Qiaoqi, a town in Baoxing, which is largely inhabited by Tibetan people. They found that the damage there was not particularly serious with only one person injured so far, according to Qing Hai, a senior officer of the fire-fighting department of Sichuan provincial police force.

Rescuers, mainly made up of firemen, hiked into the county where communication and transportation is seriously affected, the police source said.

They are carrying light rescue equipment and have taken 11 sniffer dogs with them.

More than 870 rescuers have been sent there but some have been stranded along the way, while another team of rescuers are trying to reach the county by boat, the source said.

The rescue headquarters also called on volunteers and non-rescue vehicles not to enter this area without permission, in order to avoid additional traffic pressure in the affected areas.

A total of 203 people have been confirmed dead or missing in the 7.0-magnitude earthquake so far, according to the provincial civil affairs administration in Sichuan.

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