Heavy rains are complicating earthquake recovery efforts in southwest China, where the death toll from the disaster has risen to 82.
More than 20,000 people have been moved to temporary shelters amid the threat of landslides and building collapses in the mountainous region of Sichuan province, state media reported Thursday.
The rain is expected to last until at least Friday.
Another 35 people are missing and 270 have been taken to hospital with injuries from the 6.8-magnitude earthquake that leveled the building and sent boulders falling onto roads in Sichuan’s Ganze Tibetan Autonomous Region and the neighboring city of Ya’an on Monday, according to reports.
Buildings were also shaken in the provincial capital of Chengdu, where 21 million people are among the 65 million Chinese under a strict Covid-19 lockdown that confines them to their homes and residential compounds.
After the quake, police and health workers in Chengdu refused to let anxious residents in, adding to public frustration over the government’s strict zero-Covid policy that mandated lockdowns, quarantines and other restrictions, even as the rest of the world has largely reopened.
Despite the impact on the economy and public sentiment, the policy has been closely identified with President and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping in what has been called a politicization of health care.
The government also discourages domestic travel during the Mid-Autumn Festival on Saturday and the week-long national holiday in early October.
Virus outbreaks have been reported in 103 cities, the highest since the early days of the pandemic in early 2020.
Monday’s earthquake was centered in a mountainous area of Luding County, which sits on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau about 125 miles from Chengdu.
Friction between the region’s tectonic plates often causes earthquakes, including China’s deadliest in recent years, a magnitude 7.9 quake in 2008 that killed nearly 90,000 people in Sichuan.
That earthquake devastated towns, schools and rural communities outside Chengdu, prompting a years-long effort to rebuild with stronger materials.