Rescue ongoing despite end of "Golden hours"

2015-04-28 17:00:27 GMT2015-04-29 01:00:27(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

XIGAZE, April 28 (Xinhua) -- Rescuers are continuing to clear roads and comb through quake rubble in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, after the end of the 72 hour "golden period".

The death toll in Tibet after Saturday's earthquake in neighboring Nepal is now 25, with 4 still missing and 383 injured, according to the regional government.

The quake toppled 2,500 houses and damaged 24,700 others across 19 counties, affecting nearly 300,000 people, among whom 47,500 were displaced. A total of 82 temples were also damaged, the local publicity department said.

A 8.1-magnitude quake shook Nepal at 2:11 p.m. (Beijing Time) on Saturday, and also affected the southwestern part of Tibet, especially Xigaze City.

Xigaze has 18 counties and prefectures, and a population of more than 700,000. The counties of Gyirong, Nyalam and Tingri were worst hit. Nearly 80 percent of the houses in these three counties collapsed.


Traffic resumed Tuesday afternoon on a 37-km highway leading to Zham Town in Nyalam County, allowing rescuers and relief materials to get to the hard-hit town on the Nepal border, according to rescue headquarters.

About 6,000 residents in Zham have been struggling due to a shortage of food, water, medicine and tents after landslides blocked more than a dozen sections of the entry highway.

Eighty percent of the houses in the town have been damaged, displacing 3,500 residents. Officials said aftershocks, and rain and snow were now the main concerns.

Li Dong, vice party secretary of Nyalam, said 15 seriously injured residents in the town were waiting for medical attention.

To regain access to the isolated town, more than 300 fire fighters, armed police and professional rescuers, as well as over 30 pieces of equipment, were mobilized to repair the highway.

The work, however, was hampered by the high altitude, complicated terrain, frequent aftershocks and weather, rescuers said.

"Rocks kept falling onto the road as we cleared the debris," police officer Luo Yongxiang said.


As of Tuesday noon, the government has mobilized 22,400 people and 130 machines and vehicles to support rescue missions.

The central government has allocated a total of 20,000 tents, 50,000 cotton coats, 50,000 quilts, 15,000 folding beds and 15,000 sleeping bags to affected areas in Tibet.

The golden 72 hours are up, but rescuers are continuing with their mission and are not giving up hope.

Although the main artery that links Gyirong Town with Gyirong landport remains impassable, blocked by debris from landslides, the water held by landslide-triggered barrier lake has decreased from 280,000 cubic meters to 67,000 cubic meters.

So far, 29 base stations have been restored in affected area thanks to engineers' efforts. Communications have resumed in the counties of Gyirong and Nyalam.

More than 160 health workers have arrived and epidemic prevention and control is underway, said Wang Shoubi, deputy head of the region's health authorities.

More than 200 Chinese remain trapped in a hydropower station in Nepal and around 130 villagers in Tibet's border village of Rosog since Saturday's earthquake.

The group in the hydropower station are all workers and their families of the China-assisted build project, near the China-Nepal border.

Nearly 70 of those stranded at both the hydropower station and Tibetan village had been airlifted to safety by Chinese helicopters as of Tuesday, said the rescue headquarters.


Secondary disasters, traffic disruptions, extreme weather and insufficient relief supplies are hampering rescue efforts.

Several earthquakes have been monitored in Xigaze City, with the strongest measuring 5.9 magnitude.

Secondary disasters, such as landslides, mudslides and barrier lakes have been triggered by continual aftershocks.

Rain and snow has been forecast to hit Nyalam County in the following days.

In Gyirong County, Lhapa and his family are sat on a water-proof pad in their tent. The 20 square-meter tent is clean and has sufficient quilts piled up near the door.

"My house in the Rosog Village was destroyed by falling rocks. The military helicopter brought us there, and rescuers provided us with clothes, food and medicine," Lhapa said. "We are lucky."

In this resettlement site, the largest in Gyirong, more than 120 blue tents are now the temporary homes of over 1,600 people. The displaced residents have access to clinics, police stations, canteens and free telephones, all set up by the rescue teams.

However, relief is still needed. More than 900 residents in Rongxar, another worst affected town, have a shortage of tents, quilts and food, said Shenyong, an army officer.

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