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China in full rescue efforts in quake zone

2013/04/22

LUSHAN, Sichuan, April 21 (Xinhua) -- Military and civilian rescue teams are struggling to find survivors in Lushan and neighboring counties of southwest China's Sichuan Province, badly hit by Saturday's strong earthquake.

On behalf of President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang who was on the frontline of quake relief, ordered the armed forces to reach every household in all villages in the quake-hit mountainous areas to rescue survivors and treat the injured.

Military rescue teams, under the command of the rescue headquarters of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Chengdu Military Area Command (MAC), will also help transport materials, build shelters and ship supplies.

RESCUE IN FULL FORCE

A total of 18,000 soldiers and officers from China's military and armed police forces and members of paramilitary reserve forces have been sent to the quake affected areas, and so far 10,000 have reached areas which are seriously stricken, according to a statement of the Chengdu MAC.

The armed forces will also dispatch 23 helicopters to carry out material transportation missions, the command statement said.

According to the head office of the armed police, 5,800 police staff have saved 103 people in quake hit areas.

Moreover, more than 2,300 firemen have been engaged in rescue work and saved 96 people, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

As of Sunday morning, a total of 982 medical workers and 202 medical vehicles had rushed to the quake-hit areas, said a statement from the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

Hospitals in Sichuan received nearly 8,200 injured patients, it said.

The commission announced that the blood stock in Ya'an and Chengdu is sufficient and can fully meet needs.

It also said it has been prepared to transfer blood from across the country at any time to ensure enough is available in quake-hit areas.

In addition, ten senior medical experts from the Academy of Military Medical Sciences rushed from Beijing to Sichuan on Sunday morning to help prevent possible epidemic outbreak, including the H7N9 avian flu, the sources said.

Also on Sunday, the State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television sent 300 battery-powered satellite receivers, 10,000 radios and a batch of mobile multi-media broadcast and TV receivers to the affected areas. So far, TV and radio broadcast signals have been kept alive in all regions where power supply is available.

A total of 186 people have been confirmed dead in the 7.0-magnitude earthquake so far, according to the local government. More than 1.5 million people have been affected.

Premier Li Keqiang and his senior aids in the State Council, China's Cabinet, rushed to the epicenter Saturday afternoon several hours after the quake.

Li started commanding the quake rescue and relief work when he was in the flight cabin from Beijing, and urged that no minute or even second should be delayed during the "golden rescue period" in the first 72 hours after the quake.

Gucheng, with a population of 3,000, is one of the worst-hit areas. Like many other villages, most of the old houses built by wood and bricks have been destroyed or severely damaged. Huge rocks falling from the mountains can be seen along the road.

Rescuers from Ya'an City, which administers Gucheng, are searching through rubble for survivors. "We have pulled 13 people out of the rubble, including 10 alive," said Luo Bin, a village official.

"We are not sure whether more people are buried underneath but the search will go on," he said.

REACHING ISOLATED AREAS

Besides efforts at the epicenter, rescuers have been struggling to reach isolated and remote townships and villages in the mountainous areas which are edging parts of the Himalayas, where roads are blocked by huge sliding rocks after the quake.

Police rescuers are covering all areas of Lushan County, the epicenter of the quake, and several rescue teams struggled into neighboring Baoxing County, which remains hard to access.

More than 870 firemen have been sent to Baoxing, carrying light rescue equipment and taking 11 sniffer dogs with them.

According to the first firemen who reached the seat of Baoxing County, local residents' homes were "badly damaged, while power and water supplies as well as telecom services were shut off."

Airborne remote sensing images from the Beijing-based Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, showed more than 60 percent of buildings in the Baoxing County seat had suffered damage.

At least 38 landslide sites were found near the county seat and a number of them were on roads linking the county with other areas, which might affect transport, it said.

More medical teams are working in Lingguan, a main township in Baoxing, after obstructed roads linking Lushan and Baoxing were reopened at about 5 p.m..

Earlier in the morning, telecom signals remained weak and frequently failed so it was difficult for the national health commission to remain in contact with the first two medical teams entering Lingguan, said Liang Wannian, a senior official with the commission.

Many of the injured in Lingguan have been transferred so they can receive better treatment.

The commission plans to airlift more medical workers from Chengdu, capital of Sichuan, using Air Force helicopters, Liang said.

Ten medical teams are standing by at Lushan and will reinforce Baoxing when needed, he added.

Moreover, another national earthquake emergency rescue team arrived Sunday morning at Lushan for disaster relief, the China Earthquake Administration (CEA) said.

The team consists of 200 rescue workers, including 21 seismologists and 39 medical staff, according to the CEA. They have taken more than 30 tonnes of supplies to the quake area.

Rescuers on Saturday reached Qiaoqi, a town in Baoxing, which is largely inhabited by Tibetan people. They found that the damage there was not particularly serious with only one person injured so far, according to Qing Hai, a senior officer of the fire-fighting department of Sichuan provincial police force.

The rescue headquarters also called on volunteers and non-rescue vehicles not to enter this area without permission, in order to avoid additional traffic pressure in the affected areas.

Premier Li stressed strengthening the cooperation between central and local governments, so as to ensure scientific, effective, orderly and vigorous disaster-relief work.

Transportation must be unimpeded, said Li, adding that vehicles in the area should give way to rescue units and medical teams so that they can reach the places that need them.

He ordered releasing accurate information on the disaster situation, quake-relief work as well as death toll and injuries in a timely manner so as to boost people's confidence and thus make them reassured.

PREMIER'S SWIFT VISIT

During the Premier's time-scheduled stay in the quake-hit Sichuan Province, he slept in a makeshift tent, presided over meetings on board the plane and at the epicenter, visited quake relief personnel and survivors.

Before returning to Beijing, Premier Li Keqiang Sunday morning visited injured quake survivors in the West China Hospital in Chengdu.

"Be relaxed and relieved. Doctors here will make their utmost efforts to help you recover as soon as possible," Li told Yue Anhong, a local resident who was buried under rubble and seriously injured, at her sickbed.

Li asked medical staff to treat rescued people in a timely manner so as to reduce deaths and injuries to the minimum. He also ordered the guarantee of accommodation, food and safe water for residents in the quake zone as well as measures against any epidemic situation.

Li called for efforts to prevent further tragedies caused by aftershocks and geological disasters such as landslides. Public awareness of self-protection should also be promoted by government departments.

The Premier asked the central government's agencies to support and assist Sichuan provincial government which will be in charge of the comprehensive management for quake relief work from now on.

Currently, Vice Premier Wang Yang is heading to transport-isolated Baoxing County where information about the quake's aftermath is still not completely available.

The 7.0-magnitude quake occurred at 8:02 Beijing Time on Saturday morning and its epicenter, with a depth of 13 km, was monitored at 30.3 degrees north latitude and 103.0 degrees east longitude.

Ya'an has a population of 1.53 million and is known as the hometown of the giant panda. It is about 140 kilometers away from the provincial capital Chengdu City.



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