KUNMING, China (AP) — Rescuers raced Tuesday to evacuate villages near rising lakes formed by landslides, complicating relief efforts following a strong earthquake in southern China that killed at least 398 people and has left thousands homeless.
Rescue teams have freed scores of trapped survivors as they dig through the thousands of homes that collapsed when the tremor struck impoverished Ludian county in Yunnan province on Sunday. A 5-year-old boy freed by hand-digging Monday was among the dozens rescued in the first two days, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Landslides have created barrier lakes where water levels were rising Tuesday to pose a new threat to about 800 residents and seven power stations downstream, where sudden flooding could prompt widespread power outages, Xinhua reported.
A main road into the worst-hit areas of Ludian was clogged Tuesday with bulldozers, backhoes and civilian and military vehicles carrying supplies including water and instant noodles. Nearly 10,000 soldiers and police had entered the quake-stricken areas, the Defense Ministry said.
Further into the quake zone, survivors, including some half-naked, were sitting along muddy roads in the rain waiting for food and medication, Xinhua said. Medics were reporting severe shortages of medicine and an inability to perform operations on the severely injured, while rescuers said their work had been hampered by continuous downpours and quake-triggered landslides, Xinhua said.
The quake struck about 4:30 p.m. on Sunday about 370 kilometers (230 miles) northeast of the Yunnan provincial capital of Kunming. Overhead footage of the quake zone shot by state broadcaster CCTV showed older houses flattened but newer multistory buildings still standing.
Ma Yaoqi, an 18-year-old volunteer in the quake zone, said by phone that at least half of the buildings had collapsed on the road from the city of Zhaotong to the hardest-hit town of Longtou. The rest of the buildings were damaged, she said.
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