Authorities of Beichuan County, the epicenter of the May 12 Sichuan earthquake, have ordered a second containment starting on June 26, allegedly to stop the spread of plague. No details of the plague have been given.
The containment ended a six-day lifting of the first containment that started May 20. The official in charge of the Mianyang Publicity Department said that the containment would last longer this time, but did not specify a date for lifting it.
According to The Beijing News, more than 600 police officers from Mianyang City and other localities will guard the county seat around the clock to prevent anyone from entering or exiting the city, except police and those with special passes.
Officials said that the containment is necessary for plague prevention. As the temperature rises, the odor of dead bodies reeks throughout the city while flies and mosquitoes breed, making plague prevention even more difficult. In addition, after the lifting of the first containment, some residents returned and searched the debris with their bare hands for bodies of their dead family members and their belongings. Having no proper tools and protection, these people were vulnerable to infection.
Beichuan, located in northern Sichuan, suffered a catastrophe during the earthquake with 12,000 dead and 1,500 missing. The old sections of the city were completely covered by a landslide, and most of the new sections of the city were destroyed. The casualties consisted mostly of kindergarten children and school students.
The Beichuan County seat was moved to its current location from 12 miles away in 1952 so that the county government officials could stay closer to Mianyang where they often traveled to for meetings. Its original location, Zhicheng, suffered no severe damage in the quake as it sits on flat terrain surrounded by low hills.
Though local residents criticized moving the county seat to an area with high landslide risk, and that it was a wrong decision, the authorities have not responded or apologized.