The death toll in China's earthquake topped 600 on Thursday, as
rescue teams pulled 1,000 survivors from the rubble but struggled
with the high altitude and lack of heavy equipment.
Rescue teams scrambled to reach survivors in the remote
earthquake zone of China's Qinghai Province on Thursday, pulling
1,000 people out from the rubble while coping with a lack of heavy
equipment, damaged and blocked roads, and high altitude.
One day after a 6.9-magnitude quake struck poor and mountainous
Yushu County, the death toll had risen to 617 people. Some 9,000
people were injured, 300 missing, and 100,000 homeless, Zou Ming,
the Ministry of Civil Affairs director of disaster relief, told
reporters in Beijing.
Rescue workers are still arriving by air and road from across
China, as are foreign and local journalists, at the invitation of
the provincial government.
IN PICTURES: Earthquake in China's Qinghai province
"Relief operations face massive difficulties, including severe
weather, cold, and altitude sickness," said Miao Chonggang, deputy
director of disaster relief at the China Earthquake Administration.
Sniffer dogs arriving from outside Qinghai were getting dizzy and
short of breath at the 13,000-foot-high area.
Fan Yujuan, a survivor reached by phone, told the Monitor from
the Yushu airport that she had seen at least 10 flights had arrived
at the damaged facility, built just last year. Normally, the airport
receives three flights a week.
"Many soldiers arrived, as well as medical and rescue teams. They
also brought here relief for victims and transferred the injured
victims away," said Ms. Fan, who spent the night with her family in
a tent in a horse-racing stadium.
Fan said water and instant noodles were in shortage, and that
some victims were going back to the debris of their homes to dig out
"Luckily today there are not many aftershocks," said Fan, who was
on the third floor of her office when the quake struck at 7:49 am
In the flattened town of Jiegu, 30 miles from the epicenter,
where 15,000 mostly mud and wood homes were destroyed, rescue
workers dug for survivors with hands and shovels, Mr. Zou said. In
addition to finding 1,000 people, Chinese soldiers also found more
than 100 bodies in the rubble.
More than 1,000 people from the Public Security Bureau and a team
from the People's Armed Police have been dispatched to Yushu to
maintain order, Zou said.
Prime Minister Wen Jiabao visited the disaster site on Thursday,
China Central Television reported, though it did not show footage of
his arrival. …