The death toll in southern Chinas earthquake jumped from 410 to 589 on Wednesday as search and rescue teams found scores more bodies while pushing into isolated mountain communities to clear debris from collapsed homes.
The Yunnan provincial government said more than 2,400 people were injured in Sundays 6.1 magnitude quake in the mountainous farming r
Some 10,000 troops and hundreds of volunteers have rushed to Ludian to clear roads and dig out survivors from the debris, but landslides and bouts of heavy rains have complicated the efforts.
An Aerial Footage showing the devastation
The quake struck an area of steep hills and narrow roads that are not well suited to all the traffic of the massive relief effort. Landslides have shorn shear rocky faces into the regions valleys and piled earth on roads.
The weather was clear Wednesday and the roads into Longtoushan were clogged with rescue vehicles, ambulances and military jeeps along with residents and volunteers on foot.
Wang Zhixue, 32, a farmer from Wangjaocun village near Longtoushan, said his wife and two daughters survived the quake but that a landslide wrecked their house. Theyre now saying in a tent on a hillside.
"Were getting some help, but the roads must be cleared before we can recover," Wang said. "It took four hours to get supplies on my motorcycle so getting transportation going is the most important thing.
China has been burned by a backlash over its handling of previous disasters, notably in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake that killed some 87,000 people, including many children. After the quake struck on Sunday, Premier Li Keqiang was quick to rush to the scene, where state media said that he hiked five kilometers in heat and mud to visit victims and rescue personnel. State-run TV stations, meanwhile, carried footage of orange-clad rescuers rappelling over surges of muddy water holding victims in their arms on Tuesday and were quick to praise the heroism of rescue workers.
State media said that helicopters and planes flew in tons of relief goods, as authorities also worked to construct a 30-meter steel bridge to help restore access to one hard-hit region with the help of scores of workers. The government has said it would devote 600 million yuan, or about $97 million, to the relief effort.
Meanwhile, the water levels of one river located upstream from seven power stations continued to swell, threatening further interruptions in power supply, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. State media said that at least one rescue worker had been swept away in the rising waters in his determination to help potential victims.