Massive Rescue under Way after Yunnan Quake

As of Monday morning, 1,363 people have received medical treatment in the quake-hit areas, said the provincial health department. Four died despite doctors' efforts.

Eighteen medical rescue teams are on their way to the quake zone.

Rescuers have evacuated residents threatened by a lake which was formed by the quake in Jiangbian Village, Zhixiang Township of Huize County. It had inundated 20 houses.

Xinhua journalists in Ludian County seat saw drenched survivors sitting along muddy roads waiting for food and medication. Some half-naked survivors were trembling in the rain.

Medics in Ludian's Longquan Village told Xinhua that they have severe shortages of medicine, and that local conditions are too poor to perform operations for the severely injured.

"Critically injured patients keep coming, but we are unable to carry out operations for many of them," one of the doctors working at a makeshift tent in the village said. "It is impossible to deal with severe injuries such as brain hemorrhages in such conditions."

The quake is the strongest to hit Yunnan in 14 years, according to Zhang Junwei, an official with the Yunnan Earthquake Administration.

Ludian has a population of 400,000, or a density of 265 people per sq km, far above the average of 110 people per sq km in Yunnan, said Zhang.

Houses, mostly made of wood, bricks and concrete, were too fragile to resist the quake. All these factors contributed to the heavy casualties, he said.

As of 3 p.m. on Monday, 460 aftershocks have been recorded in the quake-hit region, including four measuring between 4.0 and 4.9 magnitude, said Li Fei, spokesman for the Yunnan Earthquake Administration.

Li warned that strong aftershocks may occur and secondary disasters such as landslides are possible in the rainy season.

"The blocked roads and the downpours have made some disaster areas inaccessible for heavy relief vehicles," said Liu Jianhua, secretary of the Communist Party of China Zhaotong Municipal Committee.

Liu added that they are experiencing a severe shortage of professional rescue teams and facilities.

Traffic on a main road linking the Longtoushan and the county seat eased on Monday morning after hours of gridlock after the quake. Large numbers of the injured are being transferred to the county's hospital via the road by ambulance.

Officials with the Yunnan Provincial Department of Civil Affairs told Xinhua that a large number of tents, cotton quilts and fold-out beds had been stored in Zhaotong and Ludian, but there have been problems having them delivered to the quake-hit areas.

Source: Xinhua

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