Image credit: Chinamil.com.cn.
Rescue efforts are continuing in Sichuan after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the Yaan region on Saturday. The estimated death toll has risen to 192 as efforts turn from rescue to relief.
Landslides and aftershocks are making reaching some areas of rural Baoxing county difficult for rescuers and aid workers, as the SCMP reports:
“The roads have collapsed and we cannot get out,” said Baoxing resident Gou Xiaofeng. “The rocks keep blocking the road. We are isolated.”
Firefighters used an excavator to dig through the rubble of a collapsed vegetable market in the county, where five people were believed to be buried.
China National Radio reported yesterday that the county was in urgent need of baby food and formula, with many women unable to breastfeed because they were too tired and scared.
The radio station also reported that there was a lack of basic medicines.
“There is not enough milk and there is no infant formula,” said one woman holding her two-month-old daughter. Volunteers said on their microblogs the county did not have enough rice or drinking water.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has begun airdropping supplies into the most inaccessible areas.
Planes from the Chengdu military command were deployed as rescuers reached the isolated county of Baoxing, where survivors expressed frustration at a lack of supplies partly blamed on blocked roads.
The supplies, also dropped into Taiping township in neighbouring Lushan county, included about six tonnes of food, an online provincial government news portal reported yesterday.
Tragically, a team of rescuers have themselves run into problems. Volunteers from Hangzhou have been out of contact with their headquarters since 4pm Monday following a landslide en route to their destination.
The 8-person team previously reported to the headquarters about 4pm yesterday that they witnessed a landslide after arriving at Taiping Town and they were rushing to help with rescues. It was the last time by far they were heard on the phone.
Donations and offers of assistance have poured in from all over China (except to the Red Cross, which is still suffering the after effects of the Guo Meimei PR clusterfuck). Shanghai residents have contributed over 13 million yuan according to the Shanghai Daily. Apple pledged 50 million yuan to help rescue and relief efforts, only to be one-upped by rival Samsung, which pledged 60 million.
Not all assistance is welcome however. The FT reports that authorities are being overwhelmed by volunteers, and have begun turning people away.
“The volunteers have created a certain kind of disaster themselves,” he says, speaking with the rapid speech of someone who has not slept in 48 hours. “It seems like there are more volunteers than there are earthquake victims. They have no place to sleep, and nothing to eat, and most of them have no experience or training.”
Notable dissidents have also been warned to stay away from Yaan, though not for the same reason.
Dissident Huang Qi, who was jailed for three years after investigating the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, said yesterday he was turned away from rescue work in the quake zone because authorities were wary of his past activism.
Following the 2008 quake, Huang was one of a number of critics of who accused local officials of being corrupt and blamed them for the collapse of several schools built with inferior materials.
Finally, and on a lighter note, here is a photo of a cute kid eating noodles at a camp set up for earthquake survivors (via Xinhua):