Chinese Premier urges saving lives in every possible way

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang presides over a meeting at the severely-hit Longmen Township in the quake-hit Lushan County, southwest China’s Sichuan Province, April 20, 2013. Li Keqiang arrived in Sichuan Saturday afternoon to deploy quake relief work.

By Meng Na and Li Zhihui

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang urged for every possible effort to save lives in the “golden period of rescue” after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake jolted southwest China’s Sichuan Province Saturday.

Li took a helicopter to the epicenter of Lushan County in Ya’an City after he arrived in Sichuan. He called a meeting at around 6 p.m. at the front-line headquarters in Longmen Township of Lushan.

Li left Beijing for Sichuan at 13:15 p.m. During the flight, Li listened to reports from relevant ministries and armed forces.

“The current most urgent issue is grasping the first 24 hours after the quake’s occurrence, the golden time for saving lives, to take scientific rescue measures and save peoples’ lives,” Li said on the plane.

“Life is the most important thing and the top priority is saving lives, ” Li said. No minute or even second should be delayed during the “golden rescue period” in the first 72 hours after the quake.

He urged rescuers to examine every house to ensure all the injured residents are saved amid continuous aftershocks.

Deaths and injuries should be reduced to a minimum. Medical staff must treat rescued people in a timely manner, Li said.

He also ordered the guarantee of accommodation, food and safe water for residents in the quake zone as well as measures against any epidemic situation.

Li called for efforts to prevent further tragedies caused by aftershocks and geological disasters such as landslides. Public awareness of self-protection should also be promoted by government departments.

He urged relevant departments to provide enough tents, materials for first aid, vehicles and other rescue and relief materials, waste no time to repair damaged facilities concerning electricity, communications and roads, so to ensure timely and accurate delivery of disaster relief resources.

All reserve forces for disaster relief should be on stand-by 24 hours everyday to provide possible support for disaster areas.

Li urged strengthening the cooperation between central and local governments, so as to ensure scientific, effective, orderly and vigorous disaster-relief work.

He asked to release the information on the disaster situation, quake-relief work as well as death toll and injuries in a timely manner and provide them accurately, so as to earn people’ s confidence and thus make them reassured.

He also ordered preparation of post-disaster reconstruction work.

“We once underwent catastrophes and have experience in dealing with them. We have quite a fine emergency response system,” Li said, adding that “under the strong leadership of the Party and government, and as long as we unite as one conducting rescue work scientifically, we are able to minimize the losses and overcome the disaster.”

The earthquake hit Lushan County at 8:02 a.m. Beijing time Saturday. Authorities said 186 people have been killed and more than 10,000 injured in the disaster.

Earlier in the day, Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered all-out efforts to rescue victims and minimize deaths and injuries.

The State Council, or the cabinet, has launched a first-grade emergency response to the earthquake. Emergency teams of ministries, armed forces and armed police are heading to the quake zone.

Leaders of Sichuan Province have arrived at the epicenter and rescue and relief work is underway.

The epicenter, with a depth of 13 km, was monitored at 30.3 degrees north latitude and 103.0 degrees east longitude.

Ya’an has a population of 1.53 million and is known as the hometown of the giant panda. It is about 140 kilometers away from the provincial capital Chengdu City.

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