Heavy rains and flooding have further aggravated problems caused by the series of earthquakes in Yiliang county, Yunnan province, with 61 more residents injured and roads and a hospital flooded.
A downpour between Monday evening and Tuesday morning dropped more than 150 millimeters of rain on the urban areas of Yiliang and its neighboring townships, causing mudslides on the mountain and flooding in nearby rivers.
The rain came as another blow to the quake-hit county in Southwest China, as earthquakes and landslides have killed 81 local residents and injured at least 821 since Friday.
Mudslides blocked the road linking the urban areas of the township to the surrounding areas at the epicenter of the quake on Tuesday morning. It took three diggers hours to reopen the road. The downpour also left mud up to 10 centimeters deep in parts of some streets.
The street that leads out of the urban area has been prone to mudslides for some years, but this is the most severe it has ever been, said Lei Hua, a resident whose house was blocked by a thick layer of mud.
"It has been a long-existing problem. There is no channel to divert the water from the mountain," he said.
Mudslides and floods also struck the Yiliang People's Hospital on Monday night, forcing an emergency evacuation of dozens of patients who were being treated in tents in the hospital yard, and crippling all the hospital's ambulances.
The flood washed away dozens of tents and hospital beds at the hospital, which is located at the foot of a mountain and next to a river. Several vehicles near the hospital were washed into the river, and floodwaters submerged the bridge that connects the hospital with the street on the other side of the riverbank, according to witnesses.
"We had to discharge some patients who were only slightly injured because the beds that are left now are far from enough. That's our only option as more injured people are arriving," said Ye Zifa, head of the hospital.
Despite the heavy downpour in urban areas, local authorities were relieved that there were no mudslides at the epicenter of the disaster Luozehe township, an area that suffered the most casualties and infrastructure damage in the earthquake.
"Luckily the amount of rainfall at the epicenter in Luozehe is not the heaviest," said Cheng Lianyuan, deputy mayor of Zhaotong, to which Yiliang is subordinate.
However, the road that led into the Luozehe township, was blocked by landslides, cutting the supply of food and water and tents to the quake-hit villages and streets.
Zhou Guizhong, deputy chief of Luozehe township, said in a phone interview that floors in some of the tents at the relocation sites near the epicenter have been soaked by the rain or covered by mud, and the downpour has disrupted plans to send food and water supplies and set up tents for the villagers living on the mountains.
"Many villagers on the mountains were still left without shelter when the rain came," he said.
According to local authorities, the downpour has affected 105,000 residents of Yiliang, including 54,700 people in 90 villages.
The flood has forced more residents to be moved to relocation sites in the urban areas of Yiliang and has cut the water supplies at some of the relocation sites.
"We had to ask people who moved to the relocation sites out of fear of another earthquake to go back to their homes if their houses were not damaged," said Wen Yidi, vice-chairwoman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Yiliang, who is in charge of one relocation site in the urban area.
"More residents with more urgent needs have to be relocated now," she said.