Water builds up in China quake zone, brings new danger

* Chinese premier mourns quake victims, pledges relief

BEIJING: An earthquake in China on the weekend triggered landslides that have blocked rivers and created rapidly growing bodies of water that could unleash more destruction on survivors of the disaster that killed 410 people, state media reported on Thursday.
More than 2,300 people were injured and 12 are missing after the magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck the southwestern province of Yunnan on Saturday. It was the region’s strongest quake in 14 years and destroyed thousands of buildings. “A huge quake lake containing more than 3,000 cubic metres (106,000 cubic feet) of water has inundated dozens of homes and continues to threaten nearby villages,” the Xinhua news agency quoted hydrological officials as saying.
“Its water level is increasing at a speed of 30 cm (1,060 cubic feet) per hour, putting seven power stations in the lower reaches in danger,” the news agency said.
Thousands of police, soldiers and fire fighters have been sent to help but rescue work is being hampered by poor infrastructure, aftershocks and debris in the mountainous region. On Monday, an army doctor went missing while trying to swim across another lake to help a villager search for his missing wife, Xinhua said. Workers have begun letting water out of two reservoirs which were cracked by the quake, it said.
Meanwhile, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has pledged to arrange efficient rescue and relief for victims of the deadly earthquake that hit southwest China on Sunday.
At least 410 people were killed and more than 2,300 were injured in the quake as of Tuesday afternoon. Li left Beijing for the quake-hit areas on Monday morning. Ahead of a meeting held in a tent at the quake epicenter on Monday afternoon, the premier paid silent tribute to those who died in the 6.5-magnitude earthquake in Yunnan Province.
At the meeting with local officials and rescuers from the armed forces, he ordered professional rescue teams to be placed where they are most needed and called for more medical workers to be transferred to quake-hit areas. To minimize casualties, the government will transport the seriously injured out of the quake zone as quickly as possible, Li vowed. All resources, including the armed forces, will be mobilized to keep highways operating and transport relief materials into the quake zone, he added.
The government will also make sure quarantine measures are taken to prevent epidemics, he said. Relief funds and materials, tents in particular, are in place, according to Li. He stressed that civilian and military rescue and relief forces should work together under the command of the local government. Besides giving these instructions, Li visited the warehouse of the local civil affairs department that is overseeing the distribution of relief supplies.
Learning from an official there that they were running short of cotton quilts, tents and medicines, Li promised that the central government would try its best to transport more supplies to the quake zone. Dropping by the local civil affairs department’s office, Li met a couple of local people who came to make donations as well as volunteers who helped packing the supplies. The premier thanked them for their kindness and effort. “As long as all of us work together, we will pull through this disaster,” he said.
On Tuesday morning, Li visited Ludian People’s Hospital, the closest hospital to the epicenter, where more than 280 patients are being treated. Visiting a ward, Li consoled the wounded Fu Mingxiu, whose five relatives were killed in the quake. In response to patients worrying about their medical costs, Li noted that the government will fully cover all treatment costs for people wounded in the quake and will see that every one of them gets meticulous care.
Thanking the medical staff, Li called on them to tend to both the physical and psychological wounds of the patients. “You rushed to ground zero of the quake to rescue, transfer and treat the wounded with your professional humanitarian spirit.

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