RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
After an arduous trek, NPR's Anthony Kuhn has reached one of the villages that has been hit hardest. He joins us now to talk about it. And, Anthony, what are you seeing there?
ANTHONY KUHN: It's a fairly small area. It's a much smaller area than the 2008 earthquake that devastated Sichuan, and so they've been able to get heavy machinery, troops and rescue teams in here pretty quickly. But they're still fighting hard to dig people out of the rubble.
MONTAGNE: Are there particular difficulties to this rescue effort, I mean, aside from the obvious, that it's really far away and hard to get to?
KUHN: Well, another is the altitude. This town is about almost two miles above sea level and so the oxygen is considerably thinner. And so a lot of the rescue workers are suffering from altitude sickness. Some of the rescue dogs are suffering from altitude sickness. And also, this is in a very remote corner. No matter which capital city you come from it takes a long time. It took me 12 hours. I felt like I was driving overland, across Nevada, or something. It was spectacular but very grueling.
MONTAGNE: That must also make it hard to get in the basics, like food and water and shelter.
KUHN: And I was at a spot where the army was distributing tents. And it became a little bit panicky because people were so worried that they wouldn't have anything overhead when the temperature dips down to freezing or below at night.
MONTAGNE: And, Anthony, that corner of China has a large ethnic Tibetan population. Does it make it politically sensitive or affect how the government is responding?
KUHN: And this was one of the many areas around the Tibetan plateau that saw civil unrest back in 2008.
MONTAGNE: Anthony, thanks very much.
KUHN: Thank you, Renee.
MONTAGNE: NPR's Anthony Kuhn speaking to us from the Tibetan plateau in China.
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