Chinese state media say aftershocks toppled more than 420,000 houses Tuesday in China’s quake zone, nearly two weeks after this month’s devastating earthquake.
The official Xinhua news agency reports that the two temblors, 5.4 and 5.7 magnitude, struck in China’s southwestern Sichuan and neighboring Shaanxi province.
An aftershock on Sunday killed at least eight people and destroyed about 70,000 homes.
The death toll from the May 12 quake is already at more than 67,000, and nearly 21,000 remain missing.
Officials say they have begun a comprehensive effort to protect the lives of earthquake survivors as disease and floods threaten to bring more death and destruction.
Health officials are concerned about possible outbreaks of diseases among survivors who live in cramped and often unsanitary conditions and are working to prevent large-scale epidemics.
Health Ministry official Chen Xianyi says Tuesday health officials are closely monitoring the situation in Sichuan province. He adds that the number of cases of diarrhea, tuberculosis and hepatitis is not higher since the quake.
At the same time, soldiers have begun the evacuation of an additional 80,000 people from near a lake that formed when a quake-triggered landslide dammed a river.
More than 70,000 people have already been evacuated from the lake’s area in Beichuan county of Sichuan province.
An evacuation must be carried out before soldiers dynamite the banks of the new lake to release some of its water. Chinese officials say that if the lake’s barriers were to fully open, more than a million people would need to be evacuated. The lake is inaccessible by road and can only be reached by foot or air.
On Monday, storms cleared long enough for helicopters to deliver heavy equipment that may be used to build a water diversion channel to drain the lake. However, heavy rains expected in the coming days, are raising fears that the naturally formed dam could give way. – voa