At least 186 dead, 11,300 injured; 1,097 aftershocks recorded
The death toll from Saturday’s devastating earthquake in China’s southwestern Sichuan province rose by at least 30 overnight, as rescuers battled to reach hundreds of people, believed to be trapped under debris in remote rural counties.
Authorities said on Sunday evening the number of casualties from the 7.0-magnitude earthquake stood at 186, with 21 others missing. At least 11,300 others have been reported as injured, though it was unclear how many were in a serious condition.
The Chinese government said it had earmarked one billion Yuan ($ 161 million) for a disaster relief fund.
The earthquake struck the city of Ya’an, home to 1.5 million residents, in the Lushan country, located around 140 km from the provincial capital Chengdu.
The impact of the earthquake was strong enough to be felt in as many as five surrounding provinces.
The rural counties of Sichuan, however, bore the brunt of the devastation. The worst hit areas were the predominantly rural counties of Longmen, Baoxing and Taiping, located near Ya’an. Around 18,000 soldiers were on Sunday dispatched to quake-hit areas, to assist the more than 2,000 firemen engaged in relief work. The remote location of the counties and landslips have made rescue work challenging, with workers and medical personnel only managing to reach Baoxing on Sunday morning, a full 24 hours after the earthquake struck.
Complicating recovery efforts, light to moderate rain is expected to fall over quake-hit areas on Monday, the National Meteorological Centre said, warning that rain “will cause difficulties for those carrying out relief work, and may also bring about secondary disasters including flooding, landslides or mudslides”.
The China Earthquake Administration (CEA) said as many as 1,097 aftershocks had been recorded, with three of them greater than 5.0-magnitude.
The quake struck parts of Sichuan that were still struggling to recover from a devastating earthquake in 2008 that left at least 90,000 people dead or missing.