Authorities work to re-open roads, ensure relief supplies
Updated: 2013-04-21 01:09
BEIJING - China's central government departments have vowed to restore roads unhampered for relief supplies to be delivered to the severely stricken areas after a strong quake struck Southwest China's Sichuan province Saturday morning.
The 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Lushan county of Ya'an City in the province at 8:02 a.m. Saturday Beijing Time. More than 150 people had been killed, according to the China Earthquake Administration on Saturday evening.
The Ministry of Transport (MOT) said Saturday evening that rescuers have re-opened the main passageway connecting the city of Ya'an and the epicenter Lushan county, with the landslide-affected section between Ya'an and the nearby Tianquan county already cleared off.
As of 5:00 pm, certain sections of the state highway linking Ya'an and other traffic hubs in Sichuan, including the provincial capital Chengdu and the southwestern city of Xichang, had been ordered toll free and allowed only for rescue vehicles, said MOT spokesperson He Jianzhong.
To cope with communications outage in some quake-stricken areas, the MOT has sent three emergency command vehicles from nearby to provide communications support for the ongoing relief work.
He said that the ministry will also keep monitoring roads and bridges in the quake-hit areas and reinforcing damaged structures, adding that controls on traffic flow will be imposed on bridges to guarantee transportation safety.
Meanwhile, China Railway Corporation (CRC) said its local bureau at Chengdu has conducted inspections on railway equipments and facilities in the affected regions, with no severe damage found apart from some rockfalls and cleavages.
By Saturday afternoon, all railway lines under the Chengdu railway bureau that were suspended from operation earlier the day have been restored to normal traffic, according to the bureau.
Relief supplies including tents and fuels are being loaded at central China's cities of Zhengzhou, Wuhan and Xi'an, waiting to be sent to the quake-stricken areas by rail, the CRC said.
China's civil aviation authorities have also vowed to guarantee the operation of flights for Sichuan and those carrying relief supplies, with helicopters ready for emergency rescue.
PetroChina and Sinopec, China's two largest oil refiners said they will spare no effort in guaranteeing oil supply in the affected regions.
PetroChina's local deputy manager Liu Xingguo said seven gas stations along the main passageway towards Lushan County are running around the clock on self-generated electricity. The company also ordered 20 oil tank trucks to stand by at the mostly-stricken areas near Ya'an.
Sinopec said its factories, gas stations and pipelines in Sichuan are under normal conditions, adding that 60,000 tonnes of refined oil will be allocated to the province to back up the declining local oil inventories.
Meanwhile, minister of agriculture Han Changfu said the ministry has arranged epidemic prevention supplies including 100 tonnes of disinfectant, 350 sprayers, 700 protective suits and 10 tents, with vaccines and injection equipment under preparation.
As donations to the quake-hit areas are likely to surge in the following days, the central bank stressed maintaining a steady financial system, ensuring the timely settlement of funds and abundant local cash supply.
On late Saturday, China's three telecommunications operators announced phone calls, messages and roaming services free of charge in the quake-stricken regions.
China Telecom said their rescue teams have restored telecommunication services in the epicenter of Lushan County and are working on those in the neighboring Baoxing County.