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Traffic jams hindering Yunnan quake rescue
Publication Date : 06-08-2014
Heavy traffic is continuing to make life difficult for rescue workers struggling to reach the epicenter of Sunday's earthquake in Yunnan province.
The problems have arisen as top leaders say that professional rescuers should be given priority to enter the disaster area.
Premier Li Keqiang has told provincial authorities to send more rescue workers and senior medical staff members to areas where they are most needed and to locate injured residents.
It is important to transfer the injured more quickly, Li said.
Three days after the quake, attention should also be paid to preventing epidemics, Li said. He ordered authorities to allocate more professionals to sterilize disaster areas.
The magnitude-6.5 quake killed at least 410 people and injured more than 2,300 others.
Local authorities have set up checkpoints to allow professional rescuers through.
Heavy rain has caused a series of landslides and brought increased problems for traffic, said Song Jianhui, a police officer at the Ludian Public Security Bureau.
One of two bridges giving access to Longquan village, one of the worst affected, collapsed during the quake and rescuers could only take a roundabout route, Song said.
Deng Zhiping, an army commander, said the biggest difficulty is traffic jams, which have slowed rescue work and prevented relief materials from reaching disaster zones.
Deng's group spent nearly three hours walking to Longtoushan township after overnight rain and a mudslide.
Yin Jianye, deputy governor of Yunnan, who rushed to the township on Monday night, told provincial authorities to enforce traffic controls strictly.
The heavy traffic has meant that the seriously injured have had to be moved from the disaster area by helicopters, reducing efficiency of the rescue efforts, he added.
Zhang Qi, deputy provincial frontier defense commander, said large medical equipment and medicines could not reach the epicenter because of the traffic congestion.
"Only 210 soldiers, including 150 professional rescuers, have arrived at the township," he said.
Nie Jianliang, who led a team of 26 rescuers from Beijing that reached the disaster area on Monday, said, "We walked for about two hours and reached Longquan village and began rescue work on Tuesday."
Cao Yin and Luo Wangshu in Beijing contributed to this story.