Military planes drop aid into Sichuan quake zone

PLA emergency flights bring relief for stranded survivors desperate for food and supplies after landslides block routes into ravaged counties

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 April, 2013, 12:32pm

The People's Liberation Army has started airdrops of relief supplies to the two counties in Sichuan worst affected by Saturday's earthquake, which has killed at least 192 people and injured nearly 12,000.

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.

Both counties are part of the city of Yaan . Baoxing had been largely cut off since the quake struck and mountain roads leading into it collapsed. But 23 rescue workers from the China Earthquake Administration arrived there at midnight on Sunday after battling harsh weather and roads blocked by landslides.

Families in Baoxing still searching for missing relatives said they were struggling for basic necessities ranging from water to infant formula. Power supplies have been restored.

At least 26 people in the county have been confirmed dead. Another 2,500 were injured and 20 remain missing.

"We lack drugs," said Yang Mingqing , director of a hospital in the county. "We have to use other drugs, but the treatment is not that effective."

In Lushan county, residents are relying on bottled water. Survivors in Longmen township said they hoped the electricity supply could be restored soon.

With normal life gradually being restored, more than 400 pupils from Lushan Middle School will be moved to the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chendgu to resume their classes and prepare for this year's university entrance examination.

Hygiene workers have started a clean-up and were handing out health advice.

The authorities said rescue efforts had been made more difficult by the hilly terrain and rain. "Some of the trucks delivering aid have been stuck on the road for a whole day and night," Chen Kefu, deputy director of the provincial civil affairs department, said.

A quake relief volunteer was killed by a landslide on a road near Gaohe township.

Premier Li Keqiang asked the Sichuan government to be vigilant against potential epidemics and secondary disasters, with weather forecasters predicting more rain and rising temperatures in the quake zone.

President Xi Jinping , meanwhile, said at a meeting with foreign ambassadors in Beijing that China was capable of administering disaster relief and handling reconstruction.

The meeting followed confusion over whether Russia had sent a rescue team to the area.

Xinhua said the Russian team had gone to Lushan, but the agency later retracted the story.


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