Rescue & relief work reaches remote quake-hit villages

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Rescue and relief work has reached remote villages in southwest China's Sichuan province where a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Lushan County Saturday morning.

An excvavtor works to clear a road linking to Baosheng Township, Lushan County, southwest China's Sichuan Province, April 21, 2013. [Photo/Xinhua]

An excvavtor works to clear a road linking to Baosheng Township, Lushan County, southwest China's Sichuan Province, April 21, 2013. [Photo/Xinhua]

So far, more than 200 people have been confirmed dead, 21 missing, and nearly 12,000 others injured.

The death toll is expected to rise further as rescue workers reach more deeply into the stricken areas.

Military and civilian rescue teams are struggling to reach every household in the remote villages lying further up the valleys in Lushan and neighboring counties.

Relief workers are putting all efforts into rushing supplies into the isolated rural hills. But the rescuers face difficulties as roads leading to outside cities are blocked by landslides.

Light or moderate rain is expected to strike the quake-hit region this week, which would further hamper the relief work.

In Longquan village, piles of rubble and debris from damaged and destroyed buildings fill the streets.

Some residents in the isolated village say they are merely waiting to be rescued.

"Now we don't have drinking water or power. What we can do is wait for the government to come and help us out. Also we want to call for help from other parts of the country."

In the isolated county of Baoxing, two military helicopters have transported rescue and relief supplies for villagers, including life detection equipment, tools, tents and raincoats.

Water, electricity and telecommunication services in the county remain cut off.

Zheng Xiaorou, a Red Cross volunteer says water and food are urgently needed in these isolated villages.

"There is no supply of water or power since the traffic is not running smoothly at all. I saw a lot of villagers begging for water from soldiers, and each person is only getting three bottles of water each day, and this is far from enough."

More than 1,000 injured people have been sent to a local hospital for treatment. But transporting the injured is quite difficult as the road linking the hospital and outside places remains cut off.

Some critically injured survivors are still waiting to be airlifted.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang returned to Beijing Sunday afternoon after visiting the quake-hit areas and deploying relief workers.

During the visit, he urged rescuers to try their best to save victims within the most vital first 72 hours after the quake.

"The current priority is to save lives. As soon as you have reached the site, you must listen attentively whether there is anybody crying out for help. If there is anyone, you must act immediately to rescue the victim. You cannot waste any time and must grasp the golden period for saving lives."

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