Fri, Aug 11, 2017 - Page 6 News List

China searches through quake region

LANDSLIDES:Rescue personnel said they were forced to turn back on Wednesday after encountering landslides as they tried to access a national park to find people

AFP, JIUZHAIGOU, China

Rocks from the collapsed wall of a hotel cover a car yesterday after Tuesday night’s earthquake in Sichuan Province, China.

Photo: Reuters

China yesterday ramped up its response to an earthquake that killed at least 20 people and injured hundreds, sending supplies and personnel into the mountainous zone as rescuers fanned out to search for more victims.

Journalists in Jiuzhaigou, a popular tourist destination near the epicenter of Tuesday night’s magnitude 6.5 earthquake, saw dozens of relief and military trucks rolling through the remote area of Sichuan Province.

Locals took refuge in blue relief tents in several makeshift camps or out on streets in towns as aftershocks and landslides kept nerves on edge.

Jiuzhaigou is an area populated largely by ethnic Tibetans and the Qiang people. Its scenic beauty is popular with Chinese tourists who flock to its national park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and tens of thousands of visitors were evacuated on Wednesday.

However, authorities were searching for more, with the Sichuan provincial fire department saying 16 tourists were believed stranded at a lake in the national park.

Yang Yongzhi was among a search team in red jumpsuits and hardhats who were forced by landslides to turn back on Wednesday after trying to press into cut-off valleys.

“This morning we plan to try again,” Yang said. “We’re responsible for finding if there are still people trapped over there. We’re the first to go check.”

The quake evoked memories of a devastating magnitude 8 earthquake in the region in 2008 that left 87,000 people dead or missing, but the effects of Tuesday’s disaster were comparatively light.

Authorities yesterday afternoon raised the death toll to 20, while 431 remained injured, including 34 seriously hurt.

A Frenchman and a Canadian woman were among the injured.

The earthquake tore cracks in mountain highways and journalists saw cars that had been smashed by giant falling boulders.

Some buildings in towns bore cracks, but few structures appeared to have sustained heavy damage.

However, one Jiuzhaigou hotel partially collapsed and a woman’s body was pulled out of the rubble yesterday, rescue authorities said.

It was not known if others were still buried.

Authorities have said thousands of response personnel were sent into the area.

The Chinese government had provided 200 million yuan (US$30.4 million) in relief funds, authorities said.

Local authorities said 129 telecommunications towers or other installations that were damaged by the earthquake had been repaired, restoring communications with much of the affected area.

More than 30,000 tourists were in Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area when the earthquake struck, but authorities said most were evacuated on Wednesday.

All told, nearly 60,000 people were evacuated from earthquake-hit towns and villages as more than 1,000 aftershocks hit the region.

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