CHENGDU, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- Death toll from a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in a remote area in southwest China's Sichuan Province Tuesday night has risen to 13, with 175 injured.
At least five of the dead were tourists at the popular tourist destination of Jiuzhaigou, a national park known for spectacular waterfalls and karst formations.
The earthquake hit Jiuzhaigou County at 9:19 p.m. at a depth of 20 kilometers, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center.
The people's hospital of Jiuzhaigou County has received 156 injured people. Of twenty-four seriously injured people admitted last night, the first has returned home, according to surgeon Yuan Jin.
A French man and a Canadian woman are being treated in the hospital. Maxence Vallon, 18, was hurt in both legs. Doctors said stone fragments were embedded in his right leg and he needed immediate surgery to prevent infection. The Canadian woman suffered a slight injury to her head.
"We were on open ground when a big stone fell and hit my brother on the leg," said Romain Vallon, a student in Beijing. The brothers were staying in a hotel with their mother in Jiuzhaigou when the quake struck.
The Canadian woman will leave hospital within two or three days, doctors said. "We have received excellent care. The rescue workers and doctors have been very helpful," she said.
The exact number of casualties of foreign nationals involved in the disaster is not clear.
Shen Ji, director of the provincial health and family planning commission, said more than 30 ambulances and over 500 health personnel had gone to the affected area. The provincial disease control and prevention center has sent a team to assess health risks and prevent epidemics. A 200-member health aid team from neighboring Gansu Province is standing by.
Staff and pandas at the nearby China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda were unaffected.
Rescuers are dealing with stranded tourists. More than 30,000 have been evacuated while about 10,00O others remain stranded but should be on their way home by Wednesday night. Over 800 workers are combing villages in search of anyone still trapped, according to the provincial quake relief headquarters.
Wang Zhibin, a police officer in Jiuzhaigou, said falling rocks and landslides had blocked roads, which were largely cleared by 5 a.m.
At cave-in in Zhangzha town, rescuers are struggling to reach eight seriously injured people, trapped by debris. Falling rocks brought by aftershocks have hampered their efforts.
At around 6 a.m., the first emergency rescue flight, carrying a team of nearly 100, arrived at the Jiuzhai-Huanglong Airport, the transportation hub for relief work. The National Earthquake Response Support Service sent two light helicopters carrying seismologists, medicine and relief goods to Jiuzhai Valley.
On Wednesday morning, Xinhua reporters saw tourists sitting in front of their hotels, wrapped in quilts. A tourist, surnamed Liu, told Xinhua that they had stayed up all night.
The Tibetan hotel owner gave all quilts and blankets in the hotel to the tourists and lit a bonfire to keep them warm, Liu said.
So far, only emergency vehicles and ambulances have been allowed to enter the area while passenger buses loaded with tourists are leaving, many via the Wenxian County, Gansu. The county government has sent over 200 police officers and officials to guide traffic and arrange accommodation.
The disaster reduction center of the Ministry of Civil Affairs predicted, based on a preliminary assessment, that 24,000 rooms have collapsed or been severely damaged.
China Earthquake Administration has sent a 55-member team to the site.Sichuan and Gansu provinces have also dispatched their own teams.
More than 90 vehicles and 1,200 personnel are involved in the rescue work.
Power, communication and water supplies in the county seat have basically been recovered.
The quake was felt in the provincial capital Chengdu about 300 km south of the epicenter, and other regions in Gansu and Shaanxi provinces.
The population density within 50 kilometers around the epicenter is nine people per square kilometer.
Earthquakes are common in Sichuan. In May 2008, an 8.0-magnitude earthquake killed more than 80,000 people. In 2013, a 7.0-magnitude quake killed 196.