Three Counties in China Abandon Rescue Operations Due To Post-Quake Crises

May 23, 2008 12:00 am Last Updated: May 23, 2008 12:00 am

On May 20, the Sichuan Earthquake Relief Headquarter in Beichuan County decided to stop rescue operations to ensure the safety of rescue personnel. This was due to potentially strong aftershocks in the area and rising water levels of nearby dammed-up lakes. Additionally, Shifang and Qingchuan Counties have also given up their rescue operations. Reservoirs in the earthquake-hit areas are facing unprecedented crisis.

Beichuan, Shifang and Qingchuan Counties Cease Rescue Operations

Mr. Jiang, a professional hydraulic worker, on task in the quake area, disclosed that Shifang and Qingchuan, along with Beichuan had also given up the rescue. He said that the blood of the rotten bodies irritated the hands of many rescue workers.

The place smells awful. He said, “People don't want to work there anymore, including those operating large machinery. The smell is so strong that no one can work there any longer. ”

Jiang said that the plague is currently the most serious issue. All of the villages are being disinfected, and the area is smothered with the odor of disinfectant. Nobody knows if the plague will break out or not.

Jiang spoke with a village chief in Shifang. All of the villagers knelt before President Hu Jintao when he inspected the area several days ago. Jiang said, “The villagers were begging for help. They were seeking to be saved. The troops still haven't withdrawn. It's said that they've given up the rescue. Today, on my way back, I saw all of the troops assembling at a place outside Shifang. The County is under martial law, and no one is allowed to enter. They began disinfecting the area two days ago.”

Reservoirs Facing Unprecedented Crises, Beichuan No Longer Exists

Jiang was very worried about the reservoirs. He said, “I think the reservoirs are very vulnerable.”

Jiang explained, “I'm mostly worried about the Ziping Reservoir at the moment. I can't imagine what would happen if it collapsed. There is too much water held back. If I hadn't inspected it personally, I wouldn't have believed the vast amount…If the water behind the dams breaks through, the Ziping Reservoir won't be able to contain it for sure. It would then be too late. There might be a slight hope if the dammed lakes were bombed to discharge the water right now. The most critical time will be flood season in June and July. It will be too late to discharge then. It's also too late to start fortifying the Reservoir. It won't help.”

Based on the current situation, Jiang believes that “the most major issue is that Dujianyan will be submerged for sure.” Pengzhou is also in great danger. “Longmenshan, a famous tourist attraction located below Pengzhou, simply doesn't exist any more, neither does Yinchanggou. Two mountains combined together and the water inside them formed dammed lakes. There are many dammed lakes in Pengzhou. We won't be able to stop the flood if a landslide occurs. I heard that Beichuan had been submerged. The city is simply gone, and all of the people have fled,” said Jiang.

Jiang thinks things would be better if other counties had evacuated the victims as Beichuan and Qingchuan did.

He had just come back from a large dyke right before this interview. He said the situation over there was relatively good, compared to others. But even so, there were 800 people working to repair cracks on the nearly one mile long dyke caused by the earthquake.

In addition, Jiang said that there were heavy casualties in Shifang. “Conservatively, it's estimated that Shifang had at least 20,000 casualties. Only 20 students, out of 2,000, were evacuated out of a local school.” Jiang believes that the local government won't be able to shift its responsibilities for such a serious amount of casualties. At first, the Shifang government lied about its casualty count and sent the troops away. They eventually had to return.

Finally, Jiang told an infuriating story. “When the earthquake occurred, a physics teacher told his class not to panic and not to move, while he ran away to safety. Last night, a parent told me the story. I asked him where he heard the story. He told me his daughter was in that class. He heard it from her. It couldn't be made up.”