Scramble for shelter as China quake toll mounts

Survivors badly in need of tents, clothing and instant food

Scramble for shelter as China quake toll mounts

A survivor, along with his daughter, sits beside rubble in the Qinghai province. AFP

As darkness fell, freezing temperatures left little hope for anyone still trapped under the rubble of homes, schools and monasteries Gyegu, known in Chinese as Jiegu, the ruined seat of Yushu county, which bore the brunt of the quake.

Tents have sprung up around a statue of a warrior on a horse in windswept Gyegu, where most of the region’s 1,00,000 people live. Monks dug at the rubble with shovels as soldiers handed out rice and gruel to shaken and hungry survivors.

When police handed out sachets of instant noodles at one tent camp, locals rushed with outstretched hands to grab the bags.“What we urgently need are tents, quilts, cotton-padded clothing and instant food,” Zou Ming, disaster relief director from the Civil Affairs Ministry, told reporters in Beijing. Tent supplies had been allocated but not yet fully shipped, he added.

“The main problem now is lack of transportation, and it will take time for them to arrive at the staging area.”In Yushu, the sports stadium is now a makeshift hospital, but inadequate for the number of injured people. Dozens of injured and distraught Tibetans lay on the ground outside, their broken limbs crudely splinted with wooden lathes.

The magnitude-6.9 quake was centred in the mountains that divide southwestern Qinghai province from the Tibet Autonomous Region. The Tibetan plateau is regularly shaken by quakes, though casualties are usually minimal because so few people live there.
Nearly 10,000 people have been injured in the latest quake, almost 1,000 of them severely, the official Xinhua news agency said. Hundreds are still unaccounted for.
Tibetan Buddhist monks have turned out in force to help rescue efforts, although the town’s main Buddhist monastery lay in ruins on a nearby hillside.

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