YA’AN, China — Rescuers and relief teams struggled to rush supplies into the rural hills of China’s Sichuan province yesterday after an earthquake left at least 186 people dead and more than 11,000 injured and prompted frightened survivors to spend a night in cars, tents and makeshift shelters.
The earthquake Saturday morning triggered landslides that cut off roads and disrupted phone and power connections in mountainous Lushan county, in Sichuan’s Ya’an city area, which is further south on the same fault line where a devastating quake wreaked widespread damage across the region five years ago.
Hardest-hit were villages farther up the valleys, where farmers grow rice, vegetables and corn on terraced plots. Rescuers hiked into neighboring Baoxing county after its roads were cut off, reaching it overnight, state media reported. In Longmen village, authorities said nearly all the buildings had been destroyed in a frightening minutelong shaking by the quake.
In the fog-covered town of Shuangli, corn farmer Zheng Xianlan said yesterday that she had rushed from the fields back to her home when the quake struck, and cried when she saw that the roof collapsed. She then spent the night outdoors on a worn sofa using a plastic raincoat for cover.
“We don’t earn much money. We don’t know what we will do now,” said 58-year-old Zheng, her eyes welling with tears. “The government only brought one tent for the whole village so far, but that’s not enough for us.”
Along the main roads, ambulances, fire engines and military trucks piled high with supplies waited in long lines, some turning back to try other routes when roads were impassable. Rescuers were forced to dynamite boulders that had fallen across roads, and rains Saturday night slowed rescue work, state media reported.
At the farming village of Longquan, where all the houses were damaged and some destroyed in the community of about 300 people, rescuers had arrived to collect the bodies of three dead, but had not yet provided other services as of midday yesterday, villagers said. Yang Shanqing, 37, said his father, brother and nephew were killed when their house collapsed.