A combination photo shows Sparkling Lake in the Jiuzhaigou National Park before (left) and after an earthquake that hit 3.5 km away from the valley on Aug 9, 2017. As one of the park's most photographed locations, water has drained from Sparkling Lake after the quake. (Ecns.cn)
CHENGDU - Local government Friday revealed the scale of damage caused by a powerful earthquake to a national park and UNESCO World Heritage site in mountainous Southwest China's Sichuan province, as the death toll from the tremor rose to 24
Five people are still missing, by 9 pm Friday. A total of 493 people have been injured, including 45 in serious condition, the quake rescue headquarters said in the latest casualties update.
More than 61,500 tourists and migrant workers, including 126 foreigners, were evacuated following the quake.
The Jiuzhaigou national park was near the epicenter of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Tuesday night. The park has about 20 tourist sites, including plateau lakes, waterfalls and virgin forest.
The provincial government reported that only the tourist sites north of Sparkling Lake and south of Five Flower Lake appear to have "sustained no major damage."
The main belt of the scenic area lies between the two lakes containing about 12 tourist sites.
The cliff that supports Nuorilang Waterfall, featured in the well-known television series Journey to the West, has partially collapsed.
This photo dated Aug 10, 2017 shows the scenic spot Five Flower Lake in Jiuzhaigou after the quake. (XINHUA)
Water has drained from Sparkling Lake through cracks in its surrounding mountain slopes. Torrents of water have also destroyed the natural barriers of Reed Lake and Double Dragon Lake, according to the provincial government
We can effectively say that Sparkling Lake no longer exists
Yang Xiaobo, head of Hydrology and Water Resources Survey Bureau of Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture
"We can effectively say that Sparkling Lake no longer exists," Yang Xiaobo, head of the Hydrology and Water Resources Survey Bureau of Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, told reporters.
Falling rocks have filled Mirror Lake and blocked access to Five Flower Lake.
Photos taken by journalists showed some of the previously blue and turquoise lakes have turned murky due to mud and sand.
Extensive damage was done to roads and pedestrian walkways.
The government said the relief teams are still clearing road blocks while helicopters will be used to survey damage to tourist sites that remain cut off by road.
Tourism is Jiuzhaigou's primary industry thanks to the unique landscape of narrow conic karst land forms and spectacular pristine lakes. It is also home to a number of endangered plant and animal species including the giant panda, golden snub-nosed monkey and Sichuan takin, according to the park's website.
Jiuzhaigou received 7.2 million tourists including 180,000 foreigners in 2016, with a total tourism revenue of 9 billion yuan.