Chinese Premier Visits Earthquake Zone

Posted September 8th, 2012 at 1:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Emergency workers in China's Yunnan and Guizhou provinces are clearing roads and climbing mountains to try to reach villages cut off by Friday's earthquakes, as Premier Wen Jiabao visited with some of the victims of the disaster.

Mr. Wen visited hospitals and emergency shelters Saturday, saying finding and rescuing those still missing must be a top priority. He also urged emergency workers to take precautions against disease epidemics in the emergency camps, and noted that they must also be on watch for “secondary and geological hazards” such as landslides.

Rain is expected in the region for the next several days, which will hamper rescue efforts and make landslides more likely.

Back-to-back 5.6-magnitude temblors on Friday killed at least 80 people, most in the impoverished Yunnan province. In Yunnan and Guizhou together, more than 700 people were injured and more than 100,000 people were evacuated. Thousands of buildings were destroyed or damaged.

Chinese state media warned the death toll from the earthquakes could rise because impassable roads and downed communications have made collecting information difficult.

State media said authorities have sent tens of thousands of tents, quilts, and coats to the earthquake victims.