Rescue workers despair as scores remain missing after Sichuan landslide

World Today

Hope is fading for survivors from Saturday’s massive landslide in China’s Sichuan Province. The 72-hour “golden rescue’ period is nearing its end.

CGTN’s Yang Jinghao reports.

Rescue workers have been forced to leave the site, after an alert was issued for a possible secondary disaster. As of Monday, search teams have recovered 10 bodies. Ninety-three people remain missing and more than 300 people have been relocated to safer areas.

The Diexi township primary school has some 40 students from eight villages and it’s about 10 kilometers from the landslide. The school is being used as a temporary shelter for villagers displaced by the disaster.

More than 130 villagers are staying in the students’ dormitories, including the families of the missing and some from the neighboring villages. Food, beds and basic medical services have been provided.

“This is the nearest, safe place that can house so many people in such a short time. We’ve tried to put them in a reasonably good place so they don’t have to live in tents or makeshift houses,” Chen Qianliu, Deputy Chief of Diexi Township said.

The emergency shelter can accommodate the villagers for at least one month. But in addition to basic needs, there is a need for psychological assistance,  which can take a long time.

“We hope we can help them, especially children and women, by accompanying them as their sisters or aunts, but not as psychological professionals,” Wang Jieqiong, secretary-general of the Sichuan Women and Children’s Development Foundation said.

Wang’s five-member team are all trained in psychological, post-disaster relief. They will assess the villagers’ mental state to see if there is a likelihood of psychological crisis.

“We plan to work out a 10-year assistance plan for them, both financially and psychologically. A short period of help for one week, three months and even three years is not enough at all,” Wang said.

Provincial government officials said at a press conference on Monday that they are working on a long-term settlement plan for the villagers.