China still counts victims of the devastating earthquake. In China’s Sichuan Province alone over 12,000 people were killed, local authorities say.
The epicenter of the disaster was located in Wenchuan Province. About 94,000 people are still trapped under the rubble. The regions that suffered most in the quake remain unavailable for rescuers: mountains roads have been blocked. Helicopters can not reach the disaster-stricken area because of heavy rains. Telephone communications have been broken in the region.
“We urgently need tents, food, medications and satellite communication facilities,” the head of the county party committee Wan Bin said during his call which he managed to make with his cellular phone. According to the official, farm buildings and houses in two towns have been leveled.
Recent reports say that rescue teams have finally managed to reach the areas which the quake isolated from the rest of the country. A group of 1,300 servicemen and doctors from Chengdu Province arrived at the town of Yingxiu, Wenchuan Province.
The massive disaster leveled whole villages to the ground. “I saw a whole village on a slope disappearing under the ground. Most cars were hit by huge cobbles and pushed away from the road,” local resident Yan Yan told reporters.
Landslides are not the most terrible thing in the quake-hit area. Two chemical plants exploded during the earthquake, which claimed hundreds of lives. A toxic cloud that contained about 80 tons of ammonia hung over settlements and made thousands of people flee. Thus, it became a seismic, and simultaneously an ecological disaster for the nation.
There are about 13,000 rescuers and 34,000 military men currently working in the disaster-stricken region. The authorities allocated over 120 million dollars to deal with the aftermath of the disaster. Most of the money went to Sichuan Province, and the rest was shared between other areas that suffered in the disaster.
The operation was headed by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, an educated geologist. The leaders of the Chinese Communist Party described the rescuing operations and the aftermath of the quake as goals of highest priority.
There is still no information about 2,000 foreign tourists who found themselves in the territories hit by the powerful earthquake. For instance, there might be 15 Britons in the Volon region – a well-known panda-breeding center. One hundred Israelis who were staying in China on the day of the earthquake have not called their families and friends.
Fore the time being, the Chinese authorities confirmed the death of 37 tourists when their bus was buried in the mud stream. It is still unknown whether there were any foreigners among them.
It is also unknown if there were any Russians in disaster areas. According to Leonid Ignatenko, the head of the Consular Department of the Russian Embassy in Beijing, his co-workers keep in touch with the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
On May 12 a powerful earthquake measuring from 7.6 to 8 on the Richter scale struck the China’s Sichuan Province at about 14.30 local time (10.30 Moscow time). Aftershocks continue to occur in the area. On Tuesday from 05.00 up till 08.00 local time (01.00 – 04.00 Moscow time) 1,180 of them were registered in Central China, the most powerful of which measured 6 on the Richter scale.
Later there was a report of a new powerful earthquake. A 7.6 magnitude earthquake occurred in Sichuan Province again, the epicenter was not far from the city of Chengdu. Office workers ran outside their buildings for fear of destructions.
The scale of destruction is shocking, but it might continue. China’s southwestern provinces are expected to have new earthquake shocks of much greater magnitude, the National Earthquake Information Center reported.
It was the most powerful earthquake in China since 1976, when the disaster killed over 240,000 people. On Monday earthquake shocks echoed in most Chinese regions, including Beijing, where offices and schools were evacuated. There was no damage caused to Olympic objects, the authorities assured.
Many countries all over the globe continue to offer their help to China. Russia voiced its readiness to send a plane of the Ministry for Emergency Situations together with rescuers and a mobile hospital to China. An official spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed his gratitude to all countries that were ready to help China.
Translated by Julia Bulygina