Beijing, Apr. 21:
The death toll from the 7.0-magnitude earthquake had risen to 203, up from 157 on Saturday night, with more than 11,000 people injured, as of 10.30 am (8 am IST) on Sunday, said the Department of Civil Affairs of Sichuan province.
The earthquake struck the city of Ya’an, home to 1.5 million residents, in the Lushan county, located around 140 km from the provincial capital Chengdu. The impact of the earthquake was strong enough to rattle buildings in Chengdu and to be felt in as many as five surrounding provinces, with landslides reported in Yunnan province and at least one death reported in neighbouring Shaanxi.
The rural areas of Sichuan, however, bore the brunt of the devastation. The worst hit regions were the predominantly rural counties of Longmen, Baoxing and Taiping, located near Ya’an. In Longmen, a township of 7,000 homes, as many as 5,000 houses collapsed, leaving hundreds trapped under the rubble.
The remote location of the counties and landslides in the region have slowed down rescue and recovery work, with rescuers only managing to reach Baoxing on Sunday morning, a full 24 hours after the earthquake struck.
In Baoxing, home to 58,000 people, 26 people have been confirmed killed and more than 2,500 injured so far. That number is expected to rise as more rescuers reach the isolated county and begin clearing the rubble.
Ma Jun, the head of the county, told State media “almost every home” in the county had been damaged.