LUSHAN, China – Luo Shiqiang sat near chunks of concrete, bricks and a ripped orange sofa and told how his grandfather was just returning from feeding chickens when their house collapsed and crushed him to death in this weekend’s powerful earthquake in southwestern China.
We lost everything in such a short time, the 20-year-old college student said Sunday. He said his cousin also was injured in the collapse, but that other members of his family were spared because they were out working in the fields of hard-hit Longmen village in Lushan county.
Saturday’s earthquake in Sichuan province killed at least 186 people, injured more than 11,000 and left nearly two dozen missing, mostly in the rural communities around Ya’an city, along the same fault line where a devastating quake to the north killed more than 90,000 people in Sichuan and neighboring areas five years ago in one of China’s worst natural disasters.
Relief teams flew in helicopters and dynamited through landslides Sunday to reach some of the most isolated communities, where rescuersled sniffer dogs through piles of brick and concrete debris to search for survivors.
Many residents complained that although emergency teams were quick to carry away bodies and search for survivors, they had so far done little to distribute aid. No water, no shelter, read a handwritten sign held up by children on a roadside in Longmen.
As in most natural disasters, the government mobilized thousands of soldiers and others, sending excavators and other heavy machinery as well as tents, blankets and other emergency supplies. Two soldiers died after their vehicle slid off a road and rolled down a cliff, state media reported.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Sunday that the U.N. stood ready to provide assistance and to mobilize any international support that may be needed, according to a statement released by the U.N. representative.