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Quake victims desperate for relief goods as rain brings new dangers

(Global Times)

16:41, April 24, 2013

Soldiers mourn for the dead of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that jolted Ya'an, Sichuan Province on Tuesday by bowing in front of a body on Tuesday. The death toll had risen to 193 as of Tuesday night. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Rescue and relief work entered its fourth day on Tuesday following a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Ya'an, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, as new threats brought by rainfall began to loom.

As of 6 pm Tuesday, the death toll had climbed to 193, with 25 missing, according to the Sichuan provincial government emergency command center. Nearly 2 million people have been affected by the quake, and over 233,000 have been relocated.

Rescue efforts continued in Baoxing county, one of the hardest-hit regions, on Tuesday, with firefighters searching for signs of life with the help of sniffer dogs, though the golden time for rescue, namely 72 hours following the quake, had passed.

In other regions, rescuers also refused to give up hope.

Xu Deshi, former head of the disaster emergency rescue department of the China Earthquake Administration, told the Global Times Tuesday that there had been quite a number of precedents of victims being pulled out alive even after 72 hours, adding that more than 50 people survived beyond the golden time in the deadly Wenchuan quake in 2008.

"This time, the quake-hit regions are scattered and many of them are deep in the mountains, so we can't rule out the possibility of finding more survivors," Xu said.

Besides rescue efforts, Xu also noted that currently, the key to the relief work is to calm those affected and bring their lives back to normal.

The Sichuan government has allocated 1.2 billion yuan ($195.7 million) for relief work, and received 321 million yuan in donations. Some 40,000 tents, 159,300 quilts and 2,188 tons of food and drinking water had also been allocated, said Hou Xiongfei, head of the media office of the Sichuan provincial government.

On Tuesday, four trucks loaded with food reached Baoxing, and the supplies were distributed to its affiliated villages.

Xiong Ping, a deputy director of the county's civil affairs bureau, told the Global Times the supplies were distributed based on earlier reports by lower-level authorities.

The local disciplinary watchdog has dispatched inspection groups to oversee the distribution of supplies.

According to local officials, the county is in dire need of tents, generators and medicine. Electricity has not been restored in the county seat.

The Global Times reporter learned that Xueshan village, where hundreds of people reside, only received 10 tents.

Many people in the county had to sleep outdoors or in makeshift tents, complaining that they were being ignored.

In Lingguan township, Baoxing, dozens of villagers were pictured holding banners reading "we are cold and hungry," due to the lack of supplies as a result of disruptions to local transport routes.

The Beijing Times Tuesday reported that more than 100,000 people in Tianquan county were desperate for supplies and assistance, and over 90 percent of residential buildings had been declared "unsafe."

Lingering rainfall in the quake-hit regions also raised concerns about secondary disasters.

The Center for Earth Observation and Digital Earth at the Chinese Academy of Sciences has analyzed airborne remote sensing images taken after the disaster. Guo Huadong, director of the center, told the Global Times that the county seat of Lushan, epicenter of the quake, and other affected regions are situated in a flat area, so the danger of landslides is much smaller compared with that during the Wenchuan quake, and at the moment no relocation plan has been drawn up.

"However, some areas have seen landslides, and the rain will make it more prone to such hazards," Guo warned.

Xu also stressed the need to remain vigilant against secondary disasters, adding that irrigation and engineering departments should step in to prepare for the worst case scenario.

Touching moments:

Daily life of quake victims in Sichuan

High school students prepare for exam in tent

Rescuers struggling to reach every household

Soldiers bring hope to earthquake-hit region

First night after deadly earthquake

Rescuers work hard at quake-hit area in Sichuan

>>>Quake-hit China grows in pain

The principle of sparing no efforts to save lives cannot be more stressed. No minute or even second should be delayed during the "golden rescue period" in the first 72 hours after the quake.

>>>Pilot cancels wedding to participate in quake relief

When the 7.0-magnitude quake happened, Zhang Shangnian, a pilot from an aviation brigade of Chengdu Military Region, was about to hold his wedding.

>>>Nurse returns to work after losing mother

Just likes other medical staff, she was busy with rescuing people injured in the earthquake in SW China, but no one knew her mother just died in the quake.

>>>Wedding ceremony without bridegroom held on schedule

Zhuo Jia, the bridegroom, is a solider of the Chengdu Military Region; he had to leave his beautiful bride behind to participate in earthquake relief.

>>>An injured girl's smile moves many

"Your smile makes the entire world beautiful,” a photo of a smiling girl with bandage on her head has moved so many Chinese netizens.

>>>Teenager saves mom with his bare hands

The mother moves away a precast slab weighing over 50 kilograms alone to save her son in the earthquake. She said she did not know where her strength came from.

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