Rescue efforts in Beichuan, near the epicenter of China’s earthquake, turned to chaos today as fear of flooding caused a stampede of thousands, the BBC reports. A flood warning was issued after a landslide-blocked river threatened to burst its banks, CNN reports. “Everybody just ran. People who were in the process of being rescued had to be left behind,” said a BBC correspondent.
The panic occurred after the Qingzhu river, blocked by landslides after Monday’s earthquake, created a pair of fast-rising lakes whose banks threatened to burst, leading officials to order the evacuation of 10 downstream communities. The official death toll reached 28,881 today, with 198,347 injured; two men, one of them a German tourist, were pulled to safety after more than 110 hours buried beneath the rubble.