Chinese authorities were facing a “race against time” to ensure victims of the deadliest earthquake in years were sheltered from freezing winter temperatures, a local official said on Thursday.
The quake, which struck just before midnight on Monday on the border between Gansu and Qinghai provinces, killed at least 135 people. The December weather has made the aid operation even more challenging.
Swathes of China are experiencing record-breaking cold temperatures, with authorities putting much of the country on alert. The government has issued thousands of blue tents to replace improvised shelters built by residents immediately after the quake.
A huge logistics operation has unfolded over the past three days, AFP saw, with thousands of relief workers setting up shelter, food and other facilities for the displaced.
Almost 1 000 were injured across the two provinces after the shallow tremor, measured at 5.9 by the US Geological Survey, struck.
The death toll rose on Thursday as rescuers continued to search for victims buried alive on Tuesday in Zhongchuan township in Qinghai.
Twelve people there remain missing after a “sand boil” – a phenomenon that can occur during an earthquake when soil liquefies, and forces sand and water out of the ground.
At the Jishishan County People’s Hospital in Gansu, doctors attended to survivors with mild injuries, administering intravenous drips and examining X-rays.