Gansu Quake Survivors Lack Food and Shelter

Local residents comfort a weeping woman (2nd L) outside a damaged home in earthquake-hit Gansu province, July 22, 2013.

Victims of a recent earthquake in China's remote northwestern region of Gansu still lack crucial food rations, medical supplies, and emergency tents, as rescuers continue to focus on digging out those trapped in rubble and landslide debris.

As rescuers with shovels and sniffer dogs probed collapsed hillsides, the death toll rose to 94 in the quake-hit area around Gansu's Dingxi city.

One person was listed as missing and 1,001 as injured in Monday morning's quake, which toppled walls and houses, brought down telephone lines, and buried roads in piles of mud and rock.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported two earthquakes, the first at a 5.9 magnitude and a strong aftershock about an hour and a half later at a 5.6 magnitude.

However, Chinese authorities reported the first quake at a 6.6 magnitude, possibly the result of using different equipment.

"The army is already hurrying to reach the worst-hit disaster area in the mountains, and the roads have now been unblocked," said a duty official surnamed Huang who answered the phone at government offices in worst-hit Min county.

"The greatest shortages are of bedding, beds, food, tents, and medical supplies," he said.

Worse in the mountains

A resident of Min county's Meichuan township surnamed Li said armed police had already arrived in their township, and were carrying out rescue work alongside locally stationed troops in the worst-hit villages and towns.

They were also working to mend damaged and blocked roads, he added.

"The army are all in the mountainous districts, and there aren't any troops stationed along the highway, where we are," Li said. "A lot of the army had to march into the mountains on foot, as well as the medical teams."

"The disaster is much worse in the mountainous areas than here in the townships," he said. "Eight out of 10 houses have collapsed [there], and the mountainous roads have been blocked by landslides."

A resident of Hui county, further from the epicenter of the quake, said water levels across the region were high in the wake of heavy rains, and that some bridges had already been washed away.

More rain is forecast for the end of the week.


Back in Min county, Li said local residents had been further traumatized by dozens of aftershocks from Monday's quakes and had yet to receive any relief supplies.

"Our houses didn't collapse over here, but a lot of them are cracked, and we don't dare sleep in our homes," he said. "So we have put up our own tents."

"We have water and grain, all of which we found for ourselves," he said. "The government hasn't sent us any grain or water, and it hasn't handed out any tents."

Li said five people had died in the quakes in his township, which has been designated a medical rescue center for the relief effort.

"They are bringing injured people from the disaster-hit mountain regions here for treatment," he said. "The more severely injured are being taken to the Min County Hospital."

He said no one in Meichuan had yet received any disaster relief supplies from the government.

Officials have confirmed that relief goods are in short supply in quake-hit areas, state media reported.

Zhang Yidu, deputy mayor of quake-stricken Dingxi city, told reporters that quake victims need a further 14,000 tents, 24,000 quilts, food, drinking water, as well as medical supplies and facilities, the English-language China Daily said on Tuesday.

Tremors from Monday's quakes were felt in the provincial capital of Lanzhou 177 kilometers (110 miles) north, and as far away as Xi'an, 400 kilometers (250 miles) to the east.

Reported by Gao Shan for RFA's Mandarin Service and by Bi Zimo for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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