The aftermath is not nearly as serious as the Wenchuan quake
along the same fault line five years ago. But as the death toll rose
to 174, officials rushed in aid, mindful of failings in the previous
Residents of this tiny village in the mountainous region of
southwestern China spent Sunday digging out from an earthquake that
had killed at least 174 people and injured thousands more, and was
the worst to hit the area since a devastating quake in 2008.
The Chinese authorities put the magnitude of the quake, which
struck early Saturday, at 7. Roofs buckled, walls tumbled and
windows broke after the earthquake shook houses and sent boulders
tumbling down mountainsides onto the narrow road that leads into
this valley of Lushan County near the epicenter of the earthquake.
By Saturday night, many residents had sought shelter in tents and
other makeshift housing, too scared to sleep in their flimsy homes.
The aftermath was not nearly as serious as the 7.9-magnitude
earthquake in 2008 that left more than 70,000 people dead in the
Wenchuan area. But villagers who work in Chengdu, about 160
kilometers, or 100 miles, away, streamed back home Sunday morning,
many on foot, the lucky ones on motorbikes, to check on their homes.
Song Yuanqing, 43, a construction worker, arrived back after a 22-
hour trip to find his roof and the walls unstable. "We would like to
do something, but we can't do anything," Mr. Song said as he sat
with neighbors around an outdoor fire built by the village leader in
his backyard. Some people had slept under the machinery at a lumber
yard. The village leader, Gao Zaimeng, said his house -- a two-
story concrete structure that is one of the best in town -- shook
violently. "More violent than in 2008," he said. Although his house
was intact, he was too nervous to risk sleeping or cooking inside,
About 50 soldiers attached to the People's Liberation Army's
regional headquarters in Chengdu marched in formation along the main
village street, armed with shovels and picks to help shore up
buildings. In all, the government deployed about 7,000 soldiers and
People's Armed Police officers to the affected area. By Saturday
evening, there were so many rescue workers in the area that the
government asked volunteers to stop coming.
Prime Minister Li Keqiang, perhaps mindful of the criticism of
the rescue efforts in 2008, flew to the area and slept in a tent in
Lushan County on Saturday evening.
The earthquake shook Sichuan Province at 8 a. …