Wednesday, April 14, 2010

PLA ordered 1500 Airborne to the Qinghai quake zone

Rescue teams, relief materials sent to quake-hit northwest China

BEIJING, April 14 (Xinhua) -- China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force has deployed three carrier aircraft to transport rescuers and relief materials to the quake-hit Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu in western China's Qinghai Province.

Two Il-76 aircraft will airlift rescuers and equipment from the national earthquake rescue team in Beijing, while another will carry 100 rescuers from China's mine exploration team, stationed in Chengdu, to the quake-hit Yushu prefecture.

The PLA air force has also ordered 1,500 of its airborne forces and 100 parachute troops to prepare to assist in rescue operations in the quake zone.

About 300 people have died and 8,000 others were injured after a 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit northwest China's Qinghai Province early Wednesday.

Many others are still buried under the debris of collapsed houses near the epicenter. More than 85 percent of the houses in Jiegu Township, near the epicenter, had collapsed.

Rescue teams from the central government, neighboring areas and armed forces are on their way to northwest China's Qinghai Province.

A 15-member rescue team from the China Earthquake Administration (CEA) left Beijing on a flight to Qinghai at 11:40 a.m., the CEA said in a statement to Xinhua.

In addition, a 62-member rescue team of the provincial earthquake department in Qinghai was en route to Yushu, a Tibetan autonomous prefecture in western Qinghai, while 40 rescuers had been dispatched from Qamdo, in neighboring Tibet, the statement said.

Rescuers in neighboring Gansu, Shaanxi, Xinjiang and Ningxia were also on the way to the region, according to the CEA.

The armed police headquarters had ordered 600 officers, stationed in Yushu, to take part in the rescue work and 2,100 more officers in Qinghai were on stand by, according to a headquarters spokesman.

The Lanzhou military command has sent one of its top medical teams, including six vehicles and 31 medical workers specialized in high-altitude operations, the military command headquarters told Xinhua.

Army personnel stationed in Yushu had been ordered to help with rescue work immediately and a regiment stationed in Xining, the Qinghai provincial capital, were en route to the region, the sources said.

In addition, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said in a press release that it would send 5,000 tents, 50,000 cotton coats and 50,000 quilts to the quake-hit region.

The provincial government had also arranged to send 5,000 tents, the statement said.

Hundreds Dead in Earthquake in Northwest China
April 14, 2010

BEIJING — A powerful earthquake in northwest China killed at least 300 people, injured 8,000 and left many others buried under debris on Wednesday, Chinese state media reported.

The quake, which struck at 7:49 a.m. in Qinghai Province, had a magnitude of 7.1 according to China’s earthquake administration.

According to the China Earthquake Networks Center, the earthquake struck in Yushu County, a remote and mountainous area sparsely populated by farmers and herders, most of them ethnic Tibetans. The region is pocked with copper, tin and coal mines and rich in natural gas. A government Web site said the county’s population was around 80,000.

China National Radio said that more than 80 percent of the homes in the area had collapsed but that schools and government buildings had largely remained standing.

Karsum Nyima, an employee of a local television station in Yushu, told the national television broadcaster, CCTV, that the quake had sent people running into the streets.

“All of a sudden, the houses collapsed,” he said. “It was a terrible earthquake. In the park, a Buddhist pagoda fell down. Everyone is in the street in front of their houses. They are trying to find family members.”

In the same broadcast, Wu Yong, an officer in the Chinese Army, said that the road to the airport was impassable and that soldiers were digging out people from collapsed homes by hand.

“The most important thing now is that this place is far from everything, with few accessible rescue troops available,” Mr. Wu said. “I feel like the number of dead and injured will keep going up.”

Local officials said that phone service was limited and that rescue efforts were stymied by a lack of heavy equipment. Medical supplies and tents, they added, were in short supply.

State news media reported that 700 paramilitary officers were already working in the quake zone and that another 3,000 troops would be sent to the area to assist in search and rescue efforts. The civil affairs ministry said it would also send 5,000 tents and 50,000 blankets.

Last August, Golmud was hit by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake that destroyed dozens of homes but caused no deaths. Qinghai is an ethnic melting pot of Tibetans, Mongols and Han Chinese. It is adjacent to Sichuan Province, where at least 87,000 people died in a powerful earthquake in 2008.

Xiyun Yang contributed research.

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