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Rescuers battle to reach quake-hit areas

Updated: Oct 10,2014 7:32 AM     China Daily

A military team provides free medical treatment for quake-affected residents in Jinggu county, Yunnan province, on Oct 9. Rescue teams are struggling to reach remote areas.[Photo by Zou Hong/China Daily]

Rescue workers are still struggling to reach remote areas near the epicenter of an earthquake that struck Yunnan province in the night of Oct 7.

The magnitude-6.6 quake killed at least one person and injured more than 300. Casualties were reported mainly in Jinggu county, the epicenter. Ten townships were hit in the county, seven reservoirs damaged and more than 124,000 people affected.

Ma Jiangtao, a 55-year-old villager from Qiaotou in Yongping township, complained that no rescue aid had arrived at the scene.

“No one has examined my house, which has fallen, and assessed my losses after the quake. No one has provided relevant aid, and we have been living in a tent we built ourselves,” Ma said.

Many villagers in the remote areas are living in their cars or tractors.

Villagers in Daizhaixie said they are too scared to return to their homes, even though the houses were only damaged slightly by the quake.

Dao Zhengliang, 48, has been living in his car with his family since Tuesday night. “We are mainly worried about the aftershocks and want to wait for a few days before returning home,” he said.

Villager Dao Ruifeng raised concerns over the mental impact of the quake on children and the elderly.

On Oct 8, a religious holiday for the Dai ethnic group, many people gathered to pray after the quake.

“Our children have never experienced an earthquake. Although the elderly may have faced quakes, they might never have experienced such a strong one, which may have a severe impact on their mental health,” said Dao, 37.

Liu Qiuye, a doctor, said the effect of the quake on children may not be apparent yet, but psychological counseling is needed. “They need to know that we are here for them whenever they want to talk,” she said.

Soldiers help residents in Jinggu, Yunnan province, on Thursday as they demolish dangerous houses that were damaged by the earthquake.[Photo by Zou Hong/China Daily]

The quake left 15 students and one teacher injured and closed 100 schools, affecting more than 43,000 students.

Chen Deliang, director of the education bureau in Jinggu county, said it will attempt to resume the majority of classes on Oct 6.

But Chen said that education authorities are not sure whether some school buildings that survived the quake are sufficiently safe to allow students to return.

“We need confirmation from the authorities, which takes time.”

Chen also said few students had been injured in the quake and attributed this to earthquake drills.

President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang both voiced their concerns following the quake and urged local authorities to make every effort with rescue work.

The Yunnan provincial health and family planning commission has sent eight rescue teams, comprising nearly 900 workers, to the quake zone.

Soldiers and armed police officers are delivering relief supplies to the zone, and the Yunnan Civil Affairs Department has sent 11,000 tents, 11,000 blankets and 11,000 overcoats to Jinggu.

Provincial, city and county civil affairs authorities have earmarked 28 million yuan ($4.56 million) for the quakehit area, according to the provincial civil affairs department.

Luo Wangshu and Xinhua contributed to this story.