Villagers sit in front of their destroyed house following a massive earthquake in the town of Longtoushan in Ludian County in southwest China's Yunnan Province on Aug. 5, 2014.
Villagers sit in front of their destroyed house following a massive earthquake in the town of Longtoushan in Ludian County in southwest China's Yunnan Province on Aug. 5, 2014. Andy Wong—AP

China Quake Death Toll Nears 400 With Rain Hampering Rescue Efforts

Aug 05, 2014

As rescuers continue to sift through the rubble left by a 6.5 magnitude earthquake that struck southwestern China’s Yunnan province on Saturday, heavy rain and landslides are slowing down rescue efforts and the delivery of desperately needed supplies to survivors — with worse weather to come.

Thunderstorms and torrential downpours are forecast over the next three days for Ludian County, one of the worst affected areas, forcing thousands of troops, police and other aid workers to race against time.

The death toll in what local officials say is the most destructive earthquake to strike the mountainous area in years is now 398, with 1,801 injured, China's official news agency Xinhua reports. Over 411 aftershocks have also been recorded, some as high as 4.9 magnitude.

Around 80,000 homes have been destroyed, and 124,000 others seriously damaged, the Yunnan Civil Affairs Bureau said on its website. And though some 230,000 people have been evacuated, thousands more remain threatened by aftershocks, landslides and floods. A lake has formed near the Hongshiyan hydropower station and is rising at one meter per hour, engulfing homes, forcing further evacuations, and threatening several power stations downstream, the South China Morning Post reports.

Collapsed infrastructure means that many survivors have yet to be reached. "The blocked roads and the continuous downpours have made some disaster areas inaccessible for heavy relief vehicles," Liu Jianhua, a local party official, told Xinhua.

A volunteer teacher in Longjiang Village, Huang Min, told the Post that the situation was desperate. “We're in desperate need of food, water, tents and electricity," Huang said.

Yunnan province is prone to earthquakes. A series of tremblors in 2012 killed 81 and injured over 800.

An injured child walks past rescuers heading towards the epicenter of an earthquake that struck the town of Longtoushan in Ludian county in southwest China's Yunnan province, Aug. 4, 2014
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An injured child walks past rescuers heading towards the epicenter of an earthquake that struck the town of Longtoushan in Ludian county in southwest China's Yunnan province, Aug. 4, 2014AP
An injured child walks past rescuers heading towards the epicenter of an earthquake that struck the town of Longtoushan in Ludian county in southwest China's Yunnan province, Aug. 4, 2014
A helicopter flies above collapsed houses after a magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit Longtoushan town, Ludian county, Zhaotong, Yunnan province on Aug. 4, 2014.
CHINA-YUNNAN-EARTHQUAKE-RESCUE (CN)
Rescue workers are transported into an earthquake zone on a front loader in Ludian county, Zhaotong, Yunnan province
Liu cries as his daughter wipes his tear after an earthquake killed Liu's wife and two other children in Ludian county
A helicopter flies over rescue workers at the epicenter of Sunday's earthquake that struck the town of Longtoushan in Ludian County in southwest China's Yunnan Province, Aug. 4, 2014.
Rescuers search for survivors as they walk among debris of collapsed buildings after an earthquake hit Longtoushan township of Ludian county
Rescuers carry an injured boy on a makeshift stretcher after an earthquake hit Longtoushan township of Ludian county, Yunnan province on Aug. 4, 2014.
Paramilitary policemen evacuate injured man after deadly earthquake hit Longtoushan town, Ludian county, Zhaotong, Yunnan province
Children are treated at a hospital in Ludian county, after a magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit Zhaotong, Yunnan province on Aug. 3, 2014. The earthquake struck southwestern China on Sunday, killing at least 367 people and leaving 1,881 injured in a remote area of Yunnan province, and causing thousands of buildings, including a school, to collapse.
Rescuers and a villager walk past rubbles from destroyed houses following a massive earthquake in the town of Longtoushan in Ludian County in southwest China's Yunnan Province, Aug. 5, 2014.
Rescuers search for buried people at the quake-hit area on Aug. 4, 2014 in Zhaotong, China. A 6.5-magnitude earthquake hit Zhaotong's Ludian county on Sunday, killing at least 398 people.
A man holds a picture as he stands among debris after an earthquake hit Longtoushan township of Ludian county
An injured child walks past rescuers heading towards the epicenter of an earthquake that struck the town of Longtoushan in Ludian county in southwest China's Yunnan province, Aug.
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