Channel NewsAsia

People in Yunnan struggle to recover after massive quake

As the death toll from Sunday's (Aug 3) earthquake in China's Yunnan province rises, those who survived are struggling to pick up the pieces.

YUNNAN: An entire township reduced to rubble; wreckage and devastation as far as the eye can see. In Longtoushan township, a kindergarten built just last year still stands but with fractured walls.

The death toll from Sunday's earthquake in China's Yunnan province is expected to spike in the next few days, as rescue workers finally gained access to some of the worst-hit areas, previously cut off due to landslides. The magnitude 6.5 disaster is said to have wiped out entire households and flattened tens of thousands of homes, deep in the mountainous regions.

Before the quake, Nie Sijun rented a two-storey shophouse in Longtoushan. Now, it lies in ruins, with the quake also taking the life on his only daughter, a 13-year-old student.

Mr Nie said: "She probably hid under a table to save herself. But the table was crushed and took her down with it since it wasn't very strong. She was face-down on the ground... I had asked her to come to my mother's for the holidays. She said 'ok'. So on Saturday, I called her, but she said she didn't want to go. I came to get her personally, but she refused. She told me she had too much homework and wanted to finish them."

57-year-old Lai Junhong considers himself lucky to have survived the disaster. His four-storey shophouse collapsed in a flash, he said, wiping out his trading business worth over US$320,000. "Collapsed houses are not related to life or death. No one was hurt or killed in my family and that's a blessing," said Mr Lai.

But thousands of other less fortunate survivors are still waiting for much-needed aid. Volunteers, rescuers and villagers are climbing up and down steep slopes to try to bring supplies to five villages behind a mountain. Access to these worst-hit areas are still cut off as roads are blocked by fallen debris caused by aftershocks which continue to hamper relief efforts.