Heavy rain after deadly earthquake in China complicates recovery

BEIJING (AP) — Heavy rains are complicating earthquake relief efforts in southwest China, where the death toll from the disaster rose to 82 on Monday.

State media reported on Thursday that more than 20,000 people have been moved to makeshift shelters due to the threat of landslides and building collapses in a mountainous area in Sichuan province. Rain is expected to continue until at least Friday.

Reports say another 35 people were missing and 270 were hospitalized with injuries as a magnitude 6.8 earthquake that leveled a building and threw boulders onto roads in Sichuan’s Hanseatic Autonomous Region and the neighboring city of Ya’an.

Buildings were also rocked in the provincial capital of Chengdu, where 21 million people are among the 65 million Chinese under strict COVID-19 quarantine restricting their homes and housing estates.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, police and medical workers in Chengdu refused to let anxious residents out, fueling public discontent with the government’s strict zero-control COVID policy of lockdowns, quarantines and other restrictions, even as the rest of the world has largely reopened.

Despite the impact on the economy and public sentiment, the policy has become closely identified with President and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping in what has been called the politicization of healthcare.

The government also discourages domestic travel during the Mid-Autumn Festival on Saturday and the week-long national holiday in early October.

Outbreaks of the virus have been reported in 103 cities, the highest number since the first days of the pandemic in early 2020.

Monday’s quake struck the mountainous area of ​​Luding County, on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) from Chengdu.

Friction between the tectonic plates in the region often causes earthquakes, including China’s deadliest in recent years, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake in 2008 that killed nearly 90,000 people in Sichuan province.

This earthquake destroyed cities, schools and rural communities outside of Chengdu, leading to years of rebuilding efforts with more sustainable materials.

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

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