Rescuers work at the collapsed building of the InterContinental Resort Jiuzhai Paradise in Jiuzhaigou County, southwest China's Sichuan Province, Aug. 9, 2017. A 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Jiuzhaigou, a popular tourist destination, Tuesday night. Rescue work continues in quake-hit Jiuzhaigou. (Xinhua/Fan Peishen)
Some 60,000 people were evacuated on Wednesday, 24 hours after an earthquake hit Jiuzhaigou County in Sichuan Province, which has caused 19 deaths so far.
The 7.0-magnitude quake occurred at 9:19 p.m. Tuesday in the county, a popular tourist destination in the mountains on the eastern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for all-out efforts to organize relief work and rescue the injured.
Rescue efforts, both at the government and the grassroots levels, are in full swing, demonstrating efficiency, strong resolution and human warmth.
Li Jianjun, 52, still remembers the anxiety he felt while standing in the darkness with his head bleeding.
Li is an employee of the InterContinental Resort in the quake-hit area. After his head was wounded by a stone, he rushed to an open area outside the hotel to wait for rescuers, along with crowds of people, many in pajamas or bath towels.
Medical workers who arrived at the hotel at midnight dressed their wounds.
Immediately after the quake, rescue workers, including firefighters, policemen and medical staff, rushed to the quake-hit area. Many of them had to walk dozens of kilometers as some roads to Jiuzhaigou are blocked by falling stones.
Li Dingyong, an armed policeman from neighboring Songpan County, said he had to walk 30 kilometers with 18 teammates to reach the disaster relief headquarters last night.
They discovered two dead tourists on two passenger buses on the way, he said.
The disaster relief headquarters said some 60,000 people, mostly tourists, had been evacuated as of 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. Local authorities are planning to set up temporary shelters to relocate affected residents.
Jiuzhaigou is part of the Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba, home to many Tibetans and people from other ethnic minority groups.
Hu Yunpeng, a tourist from Nanchong City of Sichuan, recalled that he was on a tourist bus with his family when the quake occurred. A huge rock hit the back door of the bus.
"At the moment I heard the bang, I thought our bus had exploded," he said. His wife was thrown out of the window and a child on the bus was killed on the spot.
He saw that a car in front of them was overturned and four people in it were killed.
Despite a bone fracture in his right leg, he climbed out of the bus and dragged his wife to the roadside, while rocks continued to fall from the mountains.
Six local Tibetan villagers, holding shovels and iron bars, rushed to the bus. They helped the tourists move to open ground near a hostel.
"Besides passengers on our bus, there were over 200 people staying in front of the hostel door," he recalled. "The Tibetan hostel owner asked us to use his firewood for warmth and took out some quilts for us."