They are refusing to give up hope in Zhouqu.
Deep mud means diggers often cannot be used to find those buried when a landslide swamped the sleeping town in north-western China at the weekend.
More than 700 people are dead and over 1,000 are missing.
The remoteness of the region is hampering rescue efforts. The nearest airport is seven hours drive away and the roads are narrow and poorly maintained.
For those who survived, there is little to do but watch and wait. The chances of finding anyone alive buried in these conditions are slim but still they keep digging.
The mud is so thick in places it reaches up to the upper floor of the buildings. Bystanders do what they can, many using their bare hands to clear away the debris.
The operation is now more about recovery that rescue. With little hope of finding any more survivors, troops are working to prevent the spread of disease.