China said it was struggling to find shelter for many of the 5 million people whose homes were destroyed in last week’s earthquake, while the region remained jittery yesterday over warnings of aftershocks.
Meanwhile, rescuers pulled a 31-year-old man to safety, the second case of someone being found alive a week after the May 12 earthquake struck Sichuan Province.
The confirmed death toll has risen to 39,577, a government official said yesterday. The death toll is expected to surpass 50,000.
Anger was building among bereaved parents in Sichuan over the way many school buildings had collapsed, burying whole classrooms full of children. In one town, in a rare public protest, hundreds demanded punishment for anyone guilty of shoddy construction.
One man surnamed Ma was saved from the debris of the Yingxiu Bay Hydropower Plant, where he worked as a director, after a 30-hour rescue effort, the Xinhua news agency said. He had been buried in the rubble for 179 hours.
Another miner was in stable condition yesterday after being trapped for 170 hours before his rescue on Monday, Xinhua said.
The most lamented victims of the quake have been the thousands of children who died when school buildings collapsed.
In Juyuan town, hundreds of grieving parents demanded an annual memorial day for their children, punishment of officials or builders responsible for shoddy schools, and compensation.
“How come all the houses didn’t fall down, but the school did? And how come that happened in so many places?” demanded one mother, whose two daughters were crushed to death.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) seeks to maintain a staunch front of unity and stability after the quake, the incipient protests by parents could be troublesome, for many of them blame official graft and laxity, more than nature, for the deaths.
China has said it would accept foreign medical teams as the relief efforts shifted from searching for survivors to caring for the injured and homeless. A growing number of countries responded by dispatching doctors to the quake area.
In the rescue effort so far, 6,375 survivors were dug out from quake debris, among some 360,159 people relocated to safer areas, the council said.
The CCP chief in Sichuan said on Monday nearly 30,000 were still missing and a further 5,000 were believed buried under rubble.
Because of plans to bury bodies quickly, the government said DNA samples will be taken from corpses to help with later identification, Jiang said. Identified bodies will be cremated, although burial will be allowed where no cremation is possible.
Chengdu residents rushed from their homes before midnight on Monday, alarmed by a television report predicting another earthquake. A few hours after the television report, a 5-magnitude tremor was felt.
“The panic was much worse in Guizhou, where reports of a frog and toad migration also spread public fear,” Xinhua said.
A panda from the famous Wolong Nature Preserve that had been missing since the quake returned safely, but two of the endangered animals were still missing, Xinhua reported.