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China quake areas remain cut off

More than 18,000 soldiers and police mobilized after 6.6 tremor

China quake areas remain cut off
Remote, hilly areas remain difficult to access following Saturday's earthquake (photo by AFP) reporter, Lushan

April 22, 2013

Relief workers continued to struggle on Monday to reach areas hit by what Chinese officials said was a 7-magnitude earthquake in Sichuan Province as authorities mobilized a massive rescue operation.

Nearly 200 people have been confirmed dead and more than 11,500 injured since the earthquake on Saturday morning.

The government has sent more than 18,000 soldiers and police as well as 180 military vehicles and 28 helicopters as part of the relief effort, according to an official statement.

But Baoxing, an area considered among the worst hit, remained inaccessible to rescue workers on Monday.

“All roads leading to this place were blocked by landslides and there is no electricity supply since the quake hit,” said Father Chen Yong who serves in Ya’an, the epicenter of the earthquake, after he led a small rescue mission which included members of the clergy.

Reports from the worst affected areas said that many of the thousands left homeless since Saturday have complained that they have still not received food or water.

More than 1.5 million people in mountainous Ya’an and the surrounding area have been affected by the earthquake, the worst in China since 2008 when an 8-magnitude tremor hit Wenchuan, a county on the same Longmenshan fault line about 157 kilometers away.

"The earthquake in Ya'an was a new shock along the fault line, but in a different direction,” Chen Xuezhong, head of the administration’s Institute of Geophysics, was quoted as saying in the state-run China Daily.

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