Rescuers dig for survivors in Chinese earthquake as 2,500 soldiers join search

At least 381 have been killed in the disaster with 1,800 injured in Yunnan province

Rescuers are digging through the rubble of broken homes in the desperate search for survivors in south west China, after a major earthquake killed at least 381 people and injured over 1,800 in a single day.

Chinese rescue efforts have seen the government dispatch 2,500 soldiers with life-detection instruments and digging equipment to the province of Yunnan, where a 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit the region on Sunday.

The troops will join more than 300 police and fire fighters already in the area who have travelled from Zhaotong, and 400 emergency workers and sniffer dogs from across the Yunnan province trying to find survivors.

But aid efforts have been held back by unrelenting rain and persisting landslides that have left many roads unusable, the BBC reports, with rescuers forced to travel on foot as the government attempts to deliver 2,000 tents, 3,000 folding beds and as many quilts and coats to those in the disaster zone.

 

Temporary medical facilities have been set up in tents to treat the hundreds of survivors, with paramilitary policemen helping to carry injured children and the elderly to safety.

Images of the aftermath of the disaster in Ludian county show the extent of the devastation; streets are shown paved in broken and splintered pieces of buildings, while parked cars have been completely crushed on the roadside, and children sit covered in bandages in hospital corridors.

“All the houses had already collapsed when we arrived. Dead bodies were everywhere and there were a lot of injured people,” Chen Wangchang, head of Ludian County hospital in Yunnan’s Zhaotong City, told the BBC.

President Xi Jinping has called for “all-out efforts” to find survivors and China’s Premier Li Keqiang is making his way to the area. State broadcaster CCTV said 29,400 people had been evacuated from the region, but the death toll is expected to continue to rise.

Around 12,000 mostly brick homes are thought to have been reduced rubble in the quake, with around 30,000 damaged.

The quake is thought to be the worst to have hit the region in 14 years. Ma Liya, a local resident, told the Chinese state news agency Xinhua that the streets of Zhaotong were like a “battlefield after a bombardment”.

 

The Red Cross Society of China has sent aid for those made homeless by the disaster, while Red Cross branches in Hong Kong, Macau and neighbouring Sichuan province have also sent relief supplies.

The US Geological Survey measured the earthquake as 6.1 magnitude, while China’s earthquake monitoring agency said the magnitude was recorded at 6.5.  The area is prone to earthquakes; in 2008 the Sichuan province suffered an earthquake that left nearly 90,000 people dead or missing and more than 16,000 people were killed in two more earthquakes in the 1970s.  

United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon offered "his condolences to the Chinese government and the families of those killed".

The UN was ready to "lend its assistance to efforts to respond to humanitarian needs" and "to mobilise any international support needed", he said.

The White House also offered its condolences. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those that lost their lives," said National Security Council deputy spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan.

"The United States stands ready to assist."

Additional reporting from Associated Press

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Smart phones, dumb reading: Rebecca and Harry from ‘Teens’
tv
News
people
News
Amazon's drones were unveiled last year.
business
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Life and Style
Worth shelling out for: Atlantic lobsters are especially meaty
food + drink
Sport
Gareth Bale
footballPaul Scholes on how Real Madrid's Welsh winger would be a perfect fit at Old Trafford if he leaves Spain
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Estimator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Motor Mechanic / Technician / MOT Tester - Oundle

£11 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Small friendly Ford dealership based i...

Recruitment Genius: Development Worker

£18300 - £20300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - New Business - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The flat management structure a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss