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Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 09:30

Remote towns in Tibet remain cut off from help

By Li Yang
Remote towns in Tibet remain cut off from help
Soldiers transfer an image of Buddha from a damaged temple to a relief tent in Nyalam county, the Tibet autonomous region, on Tuesday. (Da Qiong / China Daily)

The death toll in the Tibet autonomous region in the magnitude-7.9 earthquake in Nepal on Saturday rose to 25 on Tuesday evening. Four people were still missing, and 383 people were injured. Eighty-two temples were damaged.

As rescuers reach more remote towns isolated by blocked roads, the number of victims and the injured is expected to rise.

The earthquake affected nearly half of Xigaze's 700,000 residents in its 18 counties, among which Gyirong, Nyalam and Tingri lying along the China-Nepal border are the worst hit areas.

More than 80 percent of houses in the three counties were toppled. Zham, with 6,000 residents in Nyalam, is the biggest town that remains blocked by landslides and can only be contacted through unstable satellite phones.

The Nyalam county government said that more than 10,000 people and 20 pieces of construction equipment are working day and night to repair the only road to Zham.

Zhang Bo, mayor of Xigaze, said: "The road is so narrow that the machines cannot work together at the same time. More than 20 aftershocks in the past two days triggered new debris flows and avalanches, covering some of the reopened sections of the road."

More than 20 km of road between Nyalam and Zham have been reopened. As of Tuesday noon, there were still 10 kilometers of road blocked.

Light rain and snow fell in southern Tibet on Tuesday night. Low temperatures of about-7C at night made the road slippery for repair crews.

Zhang said Zham will run out of food and water soon, and some of the badly injured urgently need treatment.

Army helicopters from the Chengdu Military Command started sending food and water to Zham and transporting the injured to Xigaze on Monday.

Li Dong, deputy Party chief of Nyalam county, said eight settlement points were set up after the quake in comparatively safe places, accommodating nearly 5,000 people.

Armed police are keeping order in the town, and food and water are being distributed according to quota.

Zhang said the quake-hit areas need more technological support to restore power, running water and telecommunication, as well as to receive more tents, medicine, food and water.

"We urgently need experts to help us examine the geological safety of the sites where the settlements are located to avoid further loss of life," Zhang added.

By Tuesday, the Ministry of Civil Affairs had sent 20,000 tents, 50,000 quilts, 50,000 cotton padded coats, 15,000 folding beds and 15,000 sleeping bags.

Daqiong and Palden Nyima contributed to this story.

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