Yunnan quake: Massive rescue underway

Added On August 4, 2014

A strong earthquake has killed around 400 people and injured 1,800 others in the mountainous area of southwest China, According to the latest official statistics on Monday, 24 hours after a 6.5-magnitude earthquake in Yunnan Province.
Blocked roads and torrential rains are hindering the relief effort after the 6.5 magnitude quake on Sunday.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has arrived in the quake zone, calling for minimizing casualties and prioritizing saving lives.
The powerful quake struck China's southwestern province of Yunnan at 4:30 on Sunday afternoon.
It's the strongest earthquake to hit the province in 14 years. With a depth of 12 kilometers, the quake rocked several densely populated regions, sparking fear and mayhem amongst local people.
Most of the causalities have been reported close to the epicenter in Zhaotong City, which appeared to be the hardest hit.
And the strong quake had also affected 1.08 million people in disaster areas, injured 1,801 and caused an emergency evacuation of about 230,000, said the Yunnan Civil Affairs Department.
On Sunday night, President Xi Jinping ordered that authorities concerned give top priority to saving people's lives, minimize casualties and guarantee a proper settlement for quake victims.
He called for all-out efforts in relief operation and strengthening aftershock monitoring to prevent secondary disasters.
Premier Li Keqiang also released instructions for disaster relief, urging local authorities to try every possible means to save injured people and those buried in rubble.
He asked that local authorities provide residents in the quake zone with adequate food, clothes, clean drinking water, temporary shelters and timely medical treatment.
Rescuers, including Soldiers, police officers and firefighters are racing against time to save lives after the quake struck at 4:30 p.m. Sunday (Beijing Time) with a depth of 12 km. They are trying their best to struggle to the quake-hit areas in Zhaotong City and Qujing City.
The Chengdu Military Area Command has dispatched six helicopters and deployed more than 4,000 servicemen and paramilitary reserve forces to the quake zone.
The rescue work has been hampered by continuous downpours, which have disrupted traffic, lowered temperatures in the remote area, and made food and medicine shortages even more dangerous.
SOUNDBITE (CHINESE): CHEN HONG, Technician, Zhaotong Power Supply Bureau
"We're going to repair an electricity substation. When the substation recovers, power can be transmitted into the village. Our car can't drive in, so we have to borrow baskets and shoulder poles from locals."
"We drove a car at first, but this may have affected the area's traffic, so we walked into the quake zone. There are doctors in our team. We are carrying food, water and medicine to the villages."
The Yunnan Earthquake Administration said Ludian's geographic features and house structures are prone to earthquakes.
SOUNDBITE (CHINESE): LI FEI, Spokesperson, Yunnan Earthquake Administration
"Ludian County is located in the northeast of Yunnan. It has complicated landforms. The east and west part of the county is higher than its center. Ludian has a population of about 400,000. A big number of houses in the rural area are mud-and-brick shacks that are extremely vulnerable to earthquakes."
Seismic experts estimated the quake will lead to severe human and economic losses. 
SOUNDBITE (CHINESE): LI FEI, Spokesperson, Yunnan Earthquake Administration
"The magnitude of the quake is high with a shallow focal depth of 12 kilometers. The quake-hit regions are densely populated, with 265 people per square meter. The average density is 110 people in Yunnan. The houses in the area can't resist strong quakes. To sum up, the losses are expected to be huge."
The China Earthquake Networks Center said aftershocks measuring 5 to 6 on the Richter scale are possible in the area, but ruled out the possibility of stronger quakes in the epicenter.
Thundershowers and downpours are expected in Ludian in the next four days when the lowest temperature could drop to 17 degrees centigrade at night.