Premier Li keqiang makes way for rescue workers transferring the injured, during inspection work at Longtouzshan village, the epicenter of Sunday's earthquake that rattled Zhaotong city, Yunnan province, on Aug 4. [Photo by Yao Dawei/Xinhua]
Premier Li Keqiang walked some 5 km on a muddy road on Aug 4 to reach the epicenter of the deadly earthquake that killed at least 398 people in a remote area of southwestern China’s Yunnan province.
Li arrived amid the aftermath of the 6.5-magnitude quake in Longtoushan village, Ludian county, on Monday morning. The 59-year-old premier climbed over the rubble of collapsed homes and visited injured villagers in a makeshift tent hospital.
Along with killing nearly 400 people, the earthquake destroyed tens of thousands of homes and injured more than 1,801 people. The quake was the largest to strike Yunnan province since 2000.
Overnight torrential rains made the mountainous county difficult to reach, hampering rescue efforts. Li slipped while traversing the slippery road, but picked himself up and washed his hands in a nearby pond.
Shen Taikuan, a villager in Longtoushan county, was carrying his son on his back while talking to Li.
“My son was found at midnight. Thank goodness he was not badly injured,” Shen told the premier.
The premier urged Shen and other injured villagers to go to the clinics as soon as possible. He stressed that health risk were still present due to poor sanitation.
Li thanked the soldiers who rushed to the site and have worked to rescue survivors through the night. He explained that because rescue efforts were still within the 72-hour period “all strength” must be devoted to the operation.
“There are still some people buried underneath the rubble,” Li told soldiers who were carrying out rescue work.
He added, “One more life you save, one more happy family there will be.”
A 6.5-magnitude earthquake rattled southwest China’s Yunnan province at 4:30 p.m. Aug 3.
The epicenter is in Longtoushan Township, 23 km southwest of the county seat of Ludian, in Zhaotong city.
More than 12,000 houses have been toppled and 30,000 damaged in the quake zone.
At least 381 people dead and 1,801 injured
Many of the homes that collapsed in Ludian, which has a population of about 429,000, were old and made of brick.
More than 2,500 troops dispatched to the disaster region.