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Onset of flood season adds to quake zone risks

By HE DAN and AN BAIJIE  (China Daily)

09:37, April 26, 2013

Monitoring and prevention efforts will be stepped up as secondary geological events overlapping with the flood season present a tremendous challenge for disaster relief operations in Sichuan province's quake-hit areas, said a senior official of the provincial government on Thursday.

Probe teams have discovered more than 1,900 high-risk spots in Lushan and Baoxing counties, Zhong Mian, executive deputy governor of Sichuan province, said at a news conference in Beijing.

The two counties in Ya'an were the areas most affected by the magnitude-7 earthquake on April 20.

"Ya'an is a place with abundant rainfall and heavy rain is very common during the flood season. Strong rain in the earthquake zone will easily trigger devastating geological disasters," Zhong said.

He said the weather has caused landslides along the major route for transporting disaster relief materials, which has made relief work difficult.

Aware of the challenges, the government has dispatched 17 teams to carry out thorough geological examinations and send out emergency alerts.

The local government will also carefully evaluate the potential risks of geological disasters and flooding in resettlement spots, he said, adding that the government will remove people from dangerous places.

The measures came after President Xi Jinping called on Sichuan authorities and all departments involved in disaster relief work to take effort to prevent secondary disasters, further casualties and economic losses, China Central Television reported on Thursday night.

Song Xingren, a resident of Xinmin, a village in Baoxing county, said a rescue team, who risked their lives to transport the food along a severely damaged 40-km mountainous road, distributed instant noodles to about 100 households in the village on Wednesday.

"But we still lack food, drinking water and shelter," said the 57-year-old, adding that the quake destroyed all of the houses in the village and its two wells.

"My family has stored some food, but we cannot get to it because our house was smashed by a huge rock, so I have to borrow grain from relatives," Song said.

Pang Chenmin, deputy director of the Ministry of Civil Affairs' department of disaster relief, told media that the shortage of daily necessities in the hard-hit areas has been eased since roads cleared on Tuesday could be used to transport relief supplies on Wednesday.

He said major temporary resettlement spots and major roads had portable toilets as of Thursday.

Zhong from the Sichuan provincial government said safe drinking water will soon be restored for the 2 million people in the province once the repair work on water plants, pipes and reservoirs is completed.

He said the surface water has not been polluted by the quake, based on the findings of environmentalists and irrigation experts.

Qiu Jian, chief planner with the Sichuan Department of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, said quake-resistant buildings constructed after the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake have passed the test of the recent quake in Ya'an.

Those buildings were designed and built to resist a magnitude-8 earthquake.

Although some new buildings suffered varying degrees of damage during the quake in Ya'an, none of their main structures collapsed, Qiu said.

"Buildings that were part of the reconstruction program, especially public buildings where large numbers of people would be, such as schools and hospitals, have protected people's lives," he said.

China decided not to invite international disaster relief forces after the quake given the relatively small area of the earthquake zone, Zhao Ming, director of the China Earthquake Administration's department of emergency response and disaster relief, told China Daily.

After the quake, the government dispatched about 16,000 soldiers and police officers to the area, he said.

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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