Residents flee China's quarantined plague town - Ziketan

Frightened residents of a Chinese town sealed off after an outbreak of pneumonic plague have begun to flee under cover of darkness, sneaking around checkpoints set up to stop the spread of one of the world’s deadliest diseases.

Residents said that the streets of Ziketan, a town in a mainly ethnically Tibetan region of western China, were deserted as medical staff raced to disinfect the area amid reports a third person had died of the highly contagious illness.

After the outbreak was detected last Thursday, police set up checkpoints in a 17-mile radius of the farming community of about 10,000 people. But Tibetan residents familiar with the rugged and wild terrain have begun to slip out of the town, evading the checkpoints.

One person had made his way to a neighbouring province but declined to give his exact location. Others, he believed, had made their way to the city of Xining, the capital of Qinghai province. Still others had taken refuge with friends or relatives still living a nomadic existence on the Tibetan plateau.

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