Rescuers scour rubble for survivors of deadly earthquake

A resident of Ya’an, Sichuan Province, China, sat outside her home, which was damaged by an earthquake Saturday.
How Hwee Young/EPA
A resident of Ya’an, Sichuan Province, China, sat outside her home, which was damaged by an earthquake Saturday.

LUSHAN, China — Relief teams brought in helicopters and dynamited through landslides Sunday to reach some of the most isolated communities hit by a powerful weekend earthquake, as rescuers led search dogs through piles of brick, concrete, and wood debris to search for survivors.

Saturday’s earthquake in the southwestern province of Sichuan killed at least 186 people, injured more than 11,000 and left nearly two dozen missing, mostly in the rural communities around Ya’an city.

The quake struck along the same fault line where a devastating quake to the north killed more than 90,000 people in Sichuan and neighboring areas five years ago.


Lushan and Baoxing, the districts hit hardest on Saturday, had escaped the worst of the damage in the 2008 quake, and residents there said they benefited little from the region’s rebuilding after the disaster, with no special reinforcements made or new evacuation procedures introduced in their remote communities.

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Many residents complained that although emergency teams were quick to carry away bodies and search for survivors, they had so far done little to distribute aid. ‘‘No water, no shelter,’’ read a handwritten sign held up by children on a road in the village of Longmen in Lushan district.

‘‘I was working in the field when I heard the explosions of the earthquake, and I turned around and saw my house simply flatten in front of me,’’ said Fu Qiuyue, a 70-year-old farmer in Longmen.

Fu sat with her husband, Ren Dehua, in a makeshift shelter of logs near where a helicopter had parked to reach their community.

The quake — measured by China’s earthquake administration at magnitude 7.0 and by the US Geological Survey at 6.6 — struck shortly after 8 a.m. Saturday. Tens of thousands of people moved into tents or cars, unable to return home or too afraid to go back as aftershocks continued to jolt the region.

Associated Press