Heavy rain hammered a quake-stricken area of Yunnan province early yesterday morning, triggering flooding and landslides just days after two earthquakes killed dozens of residents and destroyed or damaged hundreds of thousands of homes.
Accumulated rainfall in the mountainous southwest region reached an average of 152mm in seven hours, flooding about a dozen temporary settlements where thousands of quake victims are staying, according to the provincial fire department.
Wen Shanwei, a teacher at Ganjiaba Primary School in hard-hit Yiliang county, said the deluge had not stopped by the afternoon, but it was less heavy than earlier in the day.
"The car of one of my colleagues, Su Zejun, was washed into a river by the floods early this morning when he was on his way back to school," Wen said, adding that Su escaped with just minor injuries to his fingers.
Although education officials in the county told all schools on Monday that classes were cancelled until further notice, Wen said some pupils could not be reached and about 80 out of 400 pupils at Wen's school showed up for class yesterday morning.
"That's why we teachers have to be at school, to take care of the students," Wen said.
Huang Luqi, headmaster of Binghui Primary School in downtown Yiliang, said: "Almost all school buildings in the county have been damaged to some extent.
"The rain last night [from about midnight to 7am] was so heavy that almost every corner of downtown has been inundated, and landslides have occurred here, there and everywhere. Along with my colleagues, I'm now helping in the flood and landslide-relief effort."
Huang said that despite much of the floodwaters vanishing by yesterday afternoon, the mud and debris left behind had cut off access to most roads.
"I've seen quite a lot of firefighters carrying wounded people on stretchers," Huang said.
A fire department staff member in the provincial capital, Kunming, said they sent 358 firefighters and 59 fire engines to Yiliang by 2pm on Monday to help amid continued flooding and rockslides.
"We have saved and evacuated more than 400 victims, most of whose lives were endangered by the disaster," he said.
The two earthquakes last Friday were relatively mild, with magnitudes of 5.7 and 5.6, but Xinhua reported that 6,600 homes were destroyed and 430,000 were damaged, many by landslides. At least 81 people died and more than 800 were injured.