Downpours, Aftershocks Challenge Quake Relief Efforts
   2013-07-22 21:06:42    Xinhua      Web Editor: Liu Ranran

Days of downpours and a series of aftershocks have complicated rescue efforts following a 6.6-magnitude earthquake that jolted northwest China's Gansu Province on Monday.

At least 75 people have been killed and 14 others remain missing after the quake, which struck at 7:45 a.m. Monday at the border of Minxian and Zhangxian counties in the city of Dingxi, the Dingxi municipal government said.

Zhu Wenqing, a 40-year-old farmer from the village of Majiagou in Meichuan Township, said he had just gotten up for the day when his house started shaking.

"I escaped immediately on hearing a 'bang' and feeling the tremors," Zhu recalled, adding that his house later collapsed following seven or eight aftershocks.

Two helicopters and about 3,000 firefighters, armed police, soldiers and local government workers have been mobilized to engage in rescue efforts.

Aftershocks and minor landslides with falling rocks were seen in the mountainous region following the quake, posing dangers for rescuers arriving in quake-hit villages.

More than 400 aftershocks have been recorded so far, with the strongest measuring 5.6 in magnitude, Chang Zhengguo, spokesman for the provincial government, said at a press conference held in the provincial capital of Lanzhou.

In Meichuan Township, located 15 km from the Minxian County seat, 31 people had died as of noon Monday. Local residents are working to repair a road connecting the township with Majiagou, but vehicles are still unable to get into the village.

Drinking water supplies have not been affected, although food is scarce, local resident Bao Xuefeng said.

The weather forecast station of the provincial capital of Lanzhou has issued a red alert for rainstorms, forecasting heavy rain late Monday in Dingxi. Experts said the rain will affect quake relief efforts and warned of further rain-triggered disasters.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs has allotted 10,000 tents, 30,000 quilts and 10,000 sleeping bags to the quake-hit region.

Train services on a major railway line have been suspended because of heavy rain and landslides that have occurred since Sunday.

Landslides caused by torrential rain have damaged railways, disrupting traffic on railway links between Longxi County and the city of Tianshui.

An official with the Lanzhou Railway Bureau said it was not confirmed yet when operations would resume, adding that the delivery of quake-relief goods has not been affected, as rail transportation remains intact between Lanzhou, Dingxi and Longxi County.

Ouyang Jian, deputy secretary of the provincial committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), urged civilian vehicles to avoid roads in or near the quake-hit area so that rescuers and goods can be delivered quickly.

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