On September 5th, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake occurred in Luding County, Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province. The epicenter was in Hailuogou Glacier Forest Park, 39 kilometers from Luding. 

On the same day, the Ganzi Epidemic Situation Command announced that authorities implemented temporary control in Luding County and Hailuogou. As a result, people and vehicles can leave but not enter the area, and social rescue forces are not to participate in emergency rescue. 

However, the actions of the authorities have raised questions.

As of 7 a.m. on September 6th, Sichuan officials said the earthquake had killed at least 65 people, including 37 in Ganzi and 28 in Shimian County, Ya’an City; 12 people were lost in Ganzi. 

However, the number of casualties has yet to be verified.

Interview with two anonymous local residents 

An anonymous resident from Hailuogou revealed in an interview with Dajiyuan Media on September 6th that casualties were heavy and rescue efforts were blocked.

She said, “the under-mountain village is severely affected. We are on the mountain. My house has been damaged. Now I can only walk down the mountain, it takes me a long time, driving is impossible as the mountain roads are blocked by rocks.”

She told reporters that many houses in Moxi town collapsed and suffered many casualties, but the rescue was slow due to the epidemic policy.

She said: “Many houses in Moxi Town have collapsed. Many villagers have died, which is very tragic. There are still people who have not been found inside, and the death toll will have to increase. The disaster situation in Ya’an is more serious, and the authorities only allow official rescue teams to enter. Because of the pandemic control, social vehicles and people are now not allowed to enter the disaster area.”

The woman added, “There was no warning in advance. I only knew it when I surfed the internet. Then the network was disconnected, and there was no recovery signal yet. There were aftershocks in the morning today, magnitude was relatively small.”

Another anonymous resident from Luding said two hotels collapsed. In addition, the earthquake caused cracks and collapses in local houses and difficulties with power supply.

“Electricity is lack. The Hailuogou area was severely affected. Two hotels in Hailuogou collapsed directly, and there were people inside. The roads are blocked because of the pandemic control. Only armed police, firefighting, special rescue, and rescue teams organized by their villages can enter, and no one else is allowed. If there is no pandemic control, there will be a larger number of rescuers and vehicles coming. The rural roads have been broken and impassable. The rescue progress has been slow and will be missed. The death toll is going to rise.”

She added: “epidemic coupled with the disaster, it will take time to return to normal. Now normal life has been struggling. The shops are not open. It is lucky to be alive now.”

According to the woman from Luding, the local climate was abnormal before the earthquake. “The weather is abnormal this year. It snows and drought. We are all used to it. In previous years, it didn’t snow until October.”

The woman shared her fear, “Before the earthquake, I heard a thunderous noise, and everyone started to run out. It may be that after the May 12th Wenchuan earthquake, people were more alert. I saw the mountain collapse with my own eyes, and I felt a lot. I saw the mountain cracking and the smoke billowing, and it’s quite scary to see it.”

She said that there are still people trapped in the Hailuogou Scenic Area. 

A netizen broke the news on September 6th that he lost contact with his sister at Hailuogou Scenic Spot on September 5th. This netizen said: “My sister was playing in Hailuowan Glacier Park yesterday, … I lost contact with her until 8 p.m. … I hope those who know any info will contact me.”

According to an official announcement from Luzhou City, the day after the strong earthquake occurred in Luding County, it upgraded the control of the epidemic. From September 6th, the city temporarily implemented static management of 4 days closure. In addition, authorities strictly controlled traffic at the entrance of Luxian County. All people and vehicles “cannot enter or exit.” Furthermore, those who enter and exit must hold a 24-hour negative nucleic acid test certificate, no exception even for rescue teams.

Commentator: Political aims are their priority, not human lives

Tang Jingyuan, a senior current affairs commentator, said in an interview with Epoch Times reporters on September 6th that the CCP authorities implemented control to prevent the truth about the earthquake from leaking out while also controlling the pandemic.

Tang said: “Zero policy is still a high-pressure red line for local authorities as they approach the 20th National Congress. … In other words, on the one hand, the local area is to meet the requirements of epidemic prevention; on the other hand, it is also using epidemic prevention to cover up the truth about the disaster.

 “It takes a long time to enter the disaster relief site. This is a typical political commander-in-chief, regardless of the life or death of the people. It is a high-pressure red line political task to do everything possible to ensure that it is cleared, even in earthquake-stricken areas. But we all know that nucleic acid testing in the mainland can take 4 to 6 hours to produce results at the fastest. Depending on the area, it could take 12 to 24 hours. There is a golden 72-hour period for rescue in earthquake-stricken areas. So much time is wasted, indicating that the CCP government does not put saving people first, but the completion of the political requirements of superiors.

“At the same time, the local government refused to allow non-government rescue organizations to enter the disaster area, relying only on the limited rescue forces sent by the official. On the surface, this is strict epidemic prevention, but in fact, it is very likely to prevent shady things such as tofu dreg projects from exploding like the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. So this is another act of ignoring human life for so-called political security. I don’t know how many people who would have had a chance to be saved will lose their chance as a result.”

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