Travelers heading for quake-devastated southwestern China should avoid the railways to save space for relief operations, Ministry of Railways (MOR) spokesman Wang Yongping said on Wednesday morning.
"This is the contribution one could make to disaster relief work," he said, adding that 5,000 tents and three cars of food had arrived at the Eastern Chengdu Railway Station at 6:19 AM the first relief materials to make it to the quake-ravaged regions by train.
With three trunk lines and 69 sites resuming operation two days after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that was centered in Wenchuan County, Sichuan Province, the rail system was capable of transporting relief staff and materials, Wang said.
But one tunnel that collapsed amid the worst quake in more than three decades is still under repair and blocking traffic between Huixian County and Yuguan Village in Gansu; a section of the Baoji (Shaanxi)-Chengdu (Chengdu) Railway, a 669-kilometer trunk line that links northwest and northeast China.
Working against the clock to help the victims, the MOR ordered detours through the Xi'an-Ankang, Xiangfan-Chongqing and Dazhou-Chengdu lines.
Twenty-five military trains are en route to the disaster-hit regions, carrying 14,000 troops. Relief materials including 55,935 tents and 284 cars of fuel had been dispatched from areas around the country by 6 a.m.
Another 409 empty passenger cars, 800 box cars and 1,609 container flat-cars are standing by for emergency use, Wang said.
(Xinhua News Agency May 14, 2008)