Earthquake: Big Challenges As China Responds To Most Deadly Natural Disaster

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    china-earthquakeMore than 50 hours have passed since the 7.0-magnitude tremor hit and rescue work continues. More than 600 firefighters are now involved in rescue efforts in Baoxing county, the worst hit area of China.

    So far, 188 people have been reported dead. 25 are reported still missing. Nearly 12 thousand people have been injured, about a thousand of them, seriously. The quake has affected almost two million people in all.

    Rescue teams are working to clear the road linking the most hit area,  Baoxing County and its main township, Linguan. Police rescue teams have been deployed in all areas of the epicenter in Lushan County.

    The earthquake in Lushan County destroyed over 3,000 homes.

    As at Sunday afternoon, rescuers continue to  race against time catching up with the “critical first 72 hours after the disaster” to comb the quake rubble and reach every household in the epicenter of Lushan and its neighboring counties affected by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake. Also, the entire city of Ya’an was jolted early Saturday.

    Over 1,700 aftershocks have been monitored in Lushan as of 10 p.m., with the strongest measuring 5.4-magnitude, making the already ramshackle houses even more dangerous and the rescue efforts more life-threatening.

    A rescue excavator plunged off a 300-meter deep cliff in the morning in Ya’an’s quake-hit Baoxing County. The number of casualties have remained unknown as of Sunday night. The quake zone in Sichuan province has seen light rainfall since Saturday morning, slowing rescue work to some extent.

    Several rescue teams managed to reach Baoxing, which has a population of 60,000 and had remained hard to access after the quake. At least 26 locals have been confirmed dead with another 2,500 being injured as of Sunday morning, according to county head Ma Jun.

    “The top priority is to save lives,” said Ma. “Meanwhile, we’ll resettle the residents and reopen roads.”

    Altogether 40,000 homeless Baoxing residents are waiting to be relocated as most houses in Lingguan Township and Daxi Village in the county have suffered damage.

    Airborne remote sensing images showed that more than 60 percent of buildings in the county seat had suffered damage. Latest statistics show the quake collapsed more than 26,400 houses and damaged 214 reservoirs.

    Power supplies have not been fully restored in Baoxing, many parts of which are still shrouded in darkness on Sunday night.

    A total of 2,044 aftershocks have been monitored in the quake-hit Lushan County as of 8 a.m. Beijing Time Monday, with the strongest measuring 5.4-magnitude, authorities said.

    Four of the aftershocks were measured 5.0-5.9 magnitude, according to the China Earthquake Administration.

    Lushan is about 200 kilometers from the epicenter of the massive Wenchuan earthquake 5 years ago that left 87,000 dead or missing.