Beijing: Heavy snow and a sandstorm delayed flights carrying relief supplies and workers to a remote Tibetan region trying to recover from a devastating earthquake, state media said on Sunday.
As the death toll from the April 14 earthquake that flattened tens of thousands of houses in Yushu county of western China`s Qinghai province rose by 11 to more than 2,200, a senior government official said relief efforts will shift from searching for survivors to reconstruction and resettlement.
But the work was hindered over the weekend as all six daily flights between the provincial capital of Xining and Yushu were delayed, leaving hundreds of disaster relief workers on their way to the quake zone stranded in Xining, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
A sandstorm engulfed the Xining airport terminal, covering chairs with yellow grit, while in Yushu, heavy snow made plane landings dangerous, the report said.
Saturday was the final day that rescuers would search the quake zone for survivors still buried under rubble, Xinhua said, and Vice Premier Hui Liangyu said work would now focus on building temporary shelters, treating people who were hurt and reconstructing the quake-hit area.
The death toll rose to 2,203 by Saturday evening, while more than 12,000 were injured, Xinhua said. Another 73 people were still missing.
On Saturday, the Chinese government also promised to repair the 87 monasteries that were damaged by the quake, days after monks assisting in relief work were told to leave the disaster area.
The vast majority of Yushu`s residents are Tibetan and most are deeply devout Buddhists. The area has 238 monasteries with more than 23,000 monks, Xinhua said.