'Have we been forgotten?' Yunnan villagers say help hasn't come four days after quake

Some survivors of Sunday's earthquake struggle to get food, water and shelter as relief efforts are hampered by mudslides and blocked roads

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 August, 2014, 3:59pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 August, 2014, 9:34am

Parents of at least three families in Cuiping village tried to quench their children's thirst with their own saliva, a relative of survivors of Sunday's deadly earthquake said yesterday as access to remote mountain areas remained difficult due to landslides and fallen debris.

Cao Zhengfeng, 38, said she had rushed from Ludian county with her sister, carrying water and bread to Cuiping where their 76-year-old father lives and where "the young ones couldn't bear the thirst".

"All of the houses in the village have collapsed and, for days, we haven't seen significant effort from rescuers delivering aid supplies or digging out those buried under the rubble," Cao said.

"Some villagers could dig potatoes and corn from the fields, and they slept [outside], but the water shortage is a critical issue for many families there."

Video: A scene of destruction in the Yunnan quake zone

The magnitude-6.5 earthquake had claimed 615 lives with another 114 still missing as of 7pm yesterday; 3,143 people were injured; 26,000 houses had collapsed, and another 40,000 were severely damaged.

More than 230,000 people had to be relocated.

In Babao village, only 12km from the Longtoushan township centre, people were trying to make do without tents yesterday.

Helicopters made airdrops of instant noodles and villagers collected water from the mountain run-off.

Yan Anwu, 30, made his third trip to Longtoushan township since the earthquake hit on his battered motorcycle yesterday. "They finally gave me some materials to build tents today," Yan said after he had returned to the village empty-handed on his previous two tries.

"I wish I could carry more, but the road to Babao is heavily blocked by landslides.

"At sections, the road was only about a foot wide, and I had to carefully push my motorbike across without falling off the cliff."

On the hillside of Yinchangpo village, where 17 people were killed in the earthquake, lies a 14-year-old boy's "SOS" sign.

A pole with a flag tied on top had been raised in hopes of attracting rescue helicopters to drop supplies, Yunnan's Metropolis Times reported. Residents there were still waiting for rescuers and supplies to arrive. They said local reporters on Wednesday were the first outsiders they had seen since Sunday.

Video: Chinese quake victim loses hope to find his child alive

In Yinping village, a resident surnamed Lin called the Beijing Morning News for help yesterday afternoon, saying that the area was in urgent need of food, tents and quilts.

"It seems like we will be forgotten soon. The road is blocked, the rescue force is too weak, and the village is hit too hard by the quake," he was quoted as saying.

Yesterday, Buddhist monks in Longtoushan county were seen preparing for large-scale prayers to be held today to mourn the earthquake victims.

At the Longtoushan township centre, many quake victims living in tents were folding paper money to be offered to their deceased relatives on the eve of a local festival.

They all knew they were lucky to be alive.