China deploys troops as quake toll reaches 398

Updated - November 16, 2021 07:13 pm IST

Published - August 04, 2014 07:28 am IST - BEIJING:

An injured victim being rescued after an earthquake in Ludian County of Zhaotong City in southwest China's Yunnan Province, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.

An injured victim being rescued after an earthquake in Ludian County of Zhaotong City in southwest China's Yunnan Province, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.

At least 398 people have been killed and 1,800 injured in Sunday’s 6.5-magnitude earthquake that struck a remote corner of south-western China, officials said on Monday as the Chinese Army deployed 5,000 soldiers in the mountainous region in a desperate search for survivors.

The earthquake, which has affected more than one million people in Yunnan’s northeast, left more than 80,000 houses collapsed and 124,000 buildings damaged, authorities said. Rescue work has been hampered by difficult access to the remote region, with the main highway connected to Ludian county – where the epicentre was located – hit by landslides and opening for traffic almost a day after the quake struck.

On Monday, as the search for survivors continued, rescuers were also involved in a massive emergency evacuation of a quarter of a million people due to safety concerns posed by a quake lake, formed after a landslide hit the upper reaches of a still under-construction hydropower station, according to the official Xinhua news agency. Officials said on Monday evening the water level of the lake was “surging rapidly at a speed of one metre per hour.”

Premier Li Keqiang, who travelled to quake-hit areas on Monday, urged the 7,000 rescuers — including 5,000 soldiers — to prioritise the search for survivors.

Local officials said blocked roads and heavy rains had left many areas beyond the reach of heavy haul relief vehicles, slowing down rescue work.

“With the roads blocked, it is difficult to carry out more relief work,” Liu Jianhua, a local Communist Party leader, told state media.

Residents have expressed alarm about the shortage of medicines. “The critically injured patients keep coming, but we are unable to carry out operations for many of them,” a doctor at a quake-hit village in Ludian told Xinhua.

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