YANGUA, China (AP) — Survivors of an earthquake surrounded by devastation mourned the dead and endured the bitter cold in makeshift shelters Wednesday, unsure how to rebuild their lives in the remote mountains of northwest China.
“Look at this,” said Han Zhongmin, as he and his wife retrieved some of his possessions from the rubble of their home, built six years ago in Yanghua Village. “My house turned into this overnight.”
Houses collapsed and collapsed Monday night earthquake Which resulted in the deaths of at least 134 people and the injury of more than 900 others. Most of the victims occurred in Gansu Province and the rest in neighboring Qinghai Province.
In the predawn darkness, Ma Lianqiang stood next to his dead wife’s body wrapped in blankets in a makeshift tent-like shelter lit by a single overhead light. His wife was injured and buried under the rubble in her mother’s house, where she had gone to stay because she was sick.
Ma and other members of his extended family survived despite severe damage to their home in Yanghua, located in Gansu province. His father pulled Ma’s son, who suffered minor injuries in his back, from under the rubble. His uncle said they heard the earthquake and then the house started collapsing.
“We crawled out in fear,” Uncle Ma Chengming said.
Nearly 15,000 homes collapsed in Gansu and more than 87,000 people have been resettled, provincial officials said at a news conference on Wednesday. Many spent the night in shelters set up in the area as temperatures dropped below freezing.
To the north, searchers in Qinghai are searching for 13 missing people in an area where landslides submerged two villages and partially buried homes. Excavators dug into the sea of soil, and rescue workers attempted to break into some buried homes from rooftops.
The number of missing people decreased from 16 earlier on Wednesday. The death toll in the province rose again on Wednesday afternoon, according to a CCTV report.
Gansu officials said search and rescue efforts had been completed by mid-afternoon Tuesday. The death toll in the province remained at 113 and the number of infected people rose to 782. With 198 in Qinghai, the total number of infected people reached nearly 1,000.
Villagers in Yangwa huddled against the cold and ate instant noodle soup served in a tent of clear green plastic sheeting. Han Fujun said that more pressing concerns were on his mind than what to do about his destroyed home.
“Getting enough food and heating is still a problem,” he said inside the temporary shelter.
The earthquake struck a poor rural area located on the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau and inhabited by several ethnic groups with a Muslim majority. It is located about 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) southwest of the Chinese capital, Beijing.
People wept as the body of Ma Lianqiang’s wife, covered with a carpet, was carried on what looked like a metal bed frame after an outdoor Islamic funeral ritual.
The death toll was the highest Earthquake in China In nine years. Experts blamed the high death toll on several factors, including the shallow depth of the quake and the poor quality of construction in the poor area.
“Our lives now are what matters most,” said Ma Bajin, a Yanghua resident. “If we weren’t here, there would be no such thing as survival.”
Moritsugu reported from Beijing. Associated Press researchers Yu Ping and Wanqing Chen and video producer Caroline Chen in Beijing contributed to this report.
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