Frantic search for China quake survivors

Beijing. Thousands of rescuers are fighting to thwart a rising death toll as they search earthquake-shattered villages in southwest China for survivors.
 More than 90 people have been pulled alive from rubble as more than 17,000 rescuers help out. Net photo.
More than 90 people have been pulled alive from rubble as more than 17,000 rescuers help out. Net photo.

Beijing. Thousands of rescuers are fighting to thwart a rising death toll as they search earthquake-shattered villages in southwest China for survivors.

Rescue teams battled landslides and collapsed roads to reach isolated parts of Sichuan province on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, in images aired on state broadcaster CCTV on Sunday.

At least 203 people have so far been confirmed dead, with 6,000 injured in Saturday’s 6.6 magnitude quake. Almost 1,000 were seriously injured in the quake.

Soldiers searched through the night and day for survivors in villages where houses had been destroyed and treated some of the injured.

China’s new Premier Li Keqiang has rushed to the disaster zone and was shown by CCTV eating breakfast in a tent.

“The rescue effort is our first duty,” he told state media.

Xinhua news agency said more than 17,000 Chinese soldiers, pilots and police had joined the rescue mission and five drones were sent to capture aerial images.

A military vehicle carrying 17 troops headed for the quake area plummeted over a cliff on Saturday, killing one soldier and injuring seven others.

Al Jazeera’s Robert McBride, reporting from Hong Kong, said the suddenness of the earthquake had contrasted with the 2008 one in the same province, which left more than 90,000 people dead or missing.

“People are now watching to see how the new leadership is dealing with this,” McBride said.

“This their first test of how they deal this natural disaster.”

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