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Rescuers trying to reach every household in quake zone


16:39, April 21, 2013

LUSHAN, Sichuan, April 21 (Xinhua) -- Rescue forces have started a comprehensive relief operation in southwest China's Sichuan Province, which was hit by Saturday's strong earthquake, trying to reach every household.

Armed forces involved in the relief mission are required to reach every village and all households in the affected areas to rescue survivors and treat the injured. They are also required to help in re-opening roads, transport materials, build shelters and providing supplies, according to a joint command of the Chengdu Military Area Command (MAC) on Sunday.

More than 1.5 million people have been affected by Saturday's 7.0-magnitude earthquake.

The quake has affected 69 counties in the province, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs here Sunday.

"A large number of buildings collapsed and were damaged in the quake-hit area. The authorities are still checking the details since the communication and transport are not fully available," the ministry said in a statement.

The quake also affected neighboring Chongqing Municipality and Yunnan Province, it said.

About 400 buildings were damaged and eight collapsed in Chongqing and around 900 buildings were damaged in Yunnan, it 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, according to a statement of the Chengdu MAC command.

The armed forces will also dispatch 23 helicopters to carry out material transportation missions, the command statement said.

Moreover, more than 2,300 firemen have been engaged in rescue work, according to the Ministry of Public Security (MPS).

In addition, ten senior medical experts from the Academy of Military Medical Sciences rushed from Beijing to Sichuan on Sunday morning to help prevent the epidemic outbreak in the quake-hit areas.

They brought device to test and disinfect drinking water and food as well as protection device for medical workers, said the source with the academy.

The medical team also carried medicines to treat possible human infections of H7N9 avian flu, the sources said.

Also on Sunday, the State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television announced to provide 300 battery-powered satellite receivers, 10,000 radios and a batch of mobile multi-media broadcast and TV receivers to the affected areas.

According to the MPS, rescuers have covered all area of Lushan County, the epicenter of the quake, and several rescue teams struggled into neighboring Baoxing County, which has been isolated since the quake happened.

The MPS said in a statement on Sunday morning that the first group of rescuers, mainly made up of firemen, have reached Baoxing, where communication and transportation is seriously affected.

According to reports from fire-fighters who have reached Baoxing County, 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 MPS rescue headquarters in Lushan.

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.

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

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.

Moreover, another national earthquake emergency rescue team arrived Sunday morning at Lushan for disaster relief, the China Earthquake Administration (CEA) said.

The team consists of 200 rescue workers, including 21 seismologists and 39 medical staff, according to the CEA. They have taken more than 30 tonnes of supplies to the quake area.

They will try to enter Baoxing with armed police rescuers by helicopters around 3:00 p.m., the CEA 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.

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 181 people have been confirmed dead in the 7.0-magnitude earthquake so far, according to the CEA.

Related Reading:

Chinese president orders all-out rescue efforts after strong quake

Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered all-out measures to rescue victims and minimize casualties after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit southwestern province of Sichuan Saturday morning.

Chinese Premier visits epicenter after deadly quake

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Saturday afternoon visited the area torn by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in China's Sichuan Province, calling for wasting no time to save lives.

First night after deadly earthquake in Lushan Country, Sichuan

A 7.0- magnitude earthquake which hit Lushan County on April 20 morning damaged the Lushan People's Hospital and doctors had to erect temporary tents outside the hosptial to treat the injured people.

Death toll still climbing over China quake

Altogether 179 people have been killed in the 7.0-magnitude earthquake in southwest China's Sichuan Province, the China Earthquake Administration announced Sunday.

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