Chinese rescuers looked for survivors this week in northwest Gansu province where an earthquake killed at least 89 people and injured nearly 700 more.
The massive rescue and relief work with the military assisting was under way in the province’s two counties of Minxian and Zhangxian, which were hit by the 6.6-magnitude earthquake Monday morning. The region also sustained heavy damage, authorities said.
“Four of my family’s five houses were brought down in last year’s mudslide, and now the quake has killed my grandchildren. I almost want to go with them,” a village resident in Minxian county, where most of the deaths occurred, told China Daily.
The updated China Daily report placed the latest death toll at 89, with another five missing and about 700 hospitalized with injuries with dozens of them in serious condition.
An official preliminary assessment said the region had suffered direct losses of about $400 million. The report said about 17,300 homes were destroyed, tens of thousands more damaged, and more than 34,700 residents evacuated.
The region had been recovering after weeks of destructive torrential rains and flooding when the earthquake hit and the soggy conditions were hampering relief effort, especially in looking for survivors.
Prior to the quake, at least 40 people had been reported killed or missing in Minxian County due to the heavy rains and flooding.
And more rains were in the forecast Tuesday in the quake-hit areas.
Additionally residents and rescue and relief workers also were contending with hundreds of aftershocks. As of 4 p.m. Monday, 411 aftershocks had been recorded, with the strongest measuring 5.6 in magnitude, Chang Zhengguo, spokesman for the provincial government, said in the provincial capital of Lanzhou.
Chinese President Xi Jinping called for an all-out rescue effort, with saving lives the top priority, Xinhua News Agency reported.
Similar calls were issued by Premier Li Keqiang, who ordered government departments to send more relief forces and materials at the earliest.
Two military helicopters and about 3,000 armed police, firefighters, and soldiers have already arrived at the scene. The Ministry of Civil Affairs has sent 10,000 tents, 30,000 quilts and 10,000 sleeping bags to the quake-hit region, Xinhua said.
Transportation and communication services have been hit both because of the earthquake and the heavy rain and landslides since last week. Water and electricity to some of the villages also were affected.