Aftershocks a Challenge to Japanese Rescue Efforts

Mar 14, 2011, 06:48 by David Hope

Aftershocks in Japan continue to be a challenge for search and rescue operations. Hundreds of Chinese soldiers Friday joined a huge rescue effort in the aftermath of an earthquake in Southwest Yunnan province even as the death toll mounted.

At least 25 people have been reported killed so far from the 5.8-magnitude quake that struck the 300,000-population Yingjiang County Thursday. Another 250 have been reported injured, with 134 of them in serious condition, authorities said.

Many of the homeless housed in tents spent a sleepless night, concerned about those trapped in collapsed buildings and structures in the region near the border with Myanmar.

The survivors were subjected to aftershocks and a brief night thunderstorm added to their woes.

"It is cloudy now and I guess the rain will fall again tonight. It will make the rescue work more difficult," one official told the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Power supply was operating in the county, the report said. Many from the region have been evacuated to nearby towns and villages because of concerns the aftershocks might topple more buildings.

Xinhua said more injured people were being admitted to the Yingjiang People's Hospital, already filled to capacity.

"We are now short of disinfectant, crucial for the post-quake epidemic prevention work," hospital president Zhang Tao said.

He said the quake had damaged part of the hospital, requiring about 60 of the injured to be put up in tents while another 74 requiring surgery had to be sent to other facilities.

The report said the quake had toppled the homes of 1,039 families and left nearly 5,000 more seriously damaged.

The epicenter was reported to be at Lameng village, where more than 80 percent of the homes were destroyed.

The region had experienced more than 1,200 minor tremors and Gu Yishan with the Yunnan provincial earthquake bureau said it was not clear whether the 5.8-magnitude was the first quake, Xinhua said.

China Daily reported at least 400 soldiers had been brought in to augment the rescue effort made up of more than 6,100 people, including police officers, medical staff, and civilians. The soldiers used their hands to dig through the rubble as machines were not immediately available.

Thus far, provincial authorities said, about 2,000 tents, 3,000 quilts, 3,000 coats and other relief materials have been dispatched to the disaster area, but thousands more were needed.

Source: UPI