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Rescuers race against time on first post-quake night

Updated: 2013-04-21 02:58

GUCHENG VILLAGE - He Mei waited anxiously in the darkness on the only way linking Baoxing to the outside world.

Rescuers race against time on first post-quake night

"Batches of medical rescuers from the neighboring city of Mianyang are waiting for the evacuated people from Baoxing," said He Mei, deputy party secretary of the central hospital of Mianyang.

Baoxing County was the last isolated disaster-hit area in the 7.0-magnitude quake that jolted Southwest China's Sichuan province on Saturday morning, which had claimed at least 160 lives and injured 6,700 people.

Rescue efforts were stranded as fallen rocks had blocked the only road linking Baoxing to the outside, He said.

Premier Li Keqiang urged an all-out efforts to reopen the road to Baoxing tonight. Rescuers raced against the "critical first 72 hours after the disaster" with hope to save as many lives as possible.

The first rescue group with 20 firefighters arrived at Baoxing county by 11 pm Saturday, followed by 71 firefighters later. Other rescue teams are rushing to the county.

Zhang Qingqiu, a 31-year-old woman, was trying to breast-feed her son in a just-finished plastic shelter while the nine-month-old crying baby refused to be fed as night blanked the quake-shattered town.

"I just have no idea how we could endure such a long night in this place," Zhang said, who is a villager of Gucheng village, Longmei township of Lushan county.

Along the main road in the village, most of the old houses built by wood and bricks have been destroyed or damaged. Huge rocks that have fallen from the mountains can be seen along the road.

However, life has to move on.

Some children were playing outside the tents laughing and seemingly not fully aware of what the impact of the disaster. Villagers said their parents, mostly working in other cities, are rushing back.

31-year-old Wang Haiyan, along with her family and neighbors, were constructing a shelter covering about 20 sq m, where they could spend the long night.

"We even risked to go back to our damaged house to fetch some quilt and fabrics," Wang said.

Tang Ming, a resident of Longmen township, said these difficulties could be overcome as long as people work together. His confidence comes from reconstruction after the Wenchuan earthquake, an even stronger quake that left more than 87,000 people dead or missing five years ago.

A drizzle is dampening the night. More rain is forecast in the following three days in Lushan, which experts said will affect rescue efforts.

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