Dujiangyan is a city of 600,000 people, but today it is without power or water.
Buildings have collapsed, and some people are still stuck under the rubble.
One man told the BBC that his uncle was trapped, injured in the ruins of his apartment block.
He can call his uncle on his mobile phone, but is unable to rescue him.
We found him at a rescue centre, trying to persuade anyone who would listen to go with him to help rescue his uncle.
Just outside the city, a middle school collapsed in the quake on Monday, burying hundreds of students.
Aftershocks are continuing and many people are too scared to go back to their homes.
Some people were trying to make the best of the bad situation, cooking outside on temporary stoves. Others played cards to pass the time
One couple was stood on a street in the rain wearing just their pyjamas. They said their apartment block had a crack in it and they were too scared to return.
Others were camping in makeshift tents in the rain on any piece of open land they could find. One family was sleeping in the back of a truck.
Some people have decided to leave the city, and the road to Sichuan's provincial capital, Chengdu, is full of vehicles.
Going the other way, into the affected area, the road has been closed to normal traffic. Police officers were stopping non-essential vehicles from getting through.
This allowed cars, vans and trucks carrying aid supplies and rescue equipment to speed through to Dujiangyan and disaster-hit areas beyond.
People try to shelter amid the post-quake rubble
Although the situation in Dujiangyan is chaotic, there appears to be some organisation. The emergency services have moved giant earth movers into the city, which could be seen lined up alongside on main road.
The BBC also saw a team of rescuers - clad in raincoats and carrying shovels - as they made their way into the centre of the city.
Much of the damage took place in the city centre to older buildings
Much of the damage appears to have taken place in the city centre to mostly older buildings. A hospital also collapsed, according to witnesses.
Towards the city centre, shops were closed and residents could be seen wandering around.
Some people were trying to make the best of the bad situation, cooking outside on temporary stoves. Others played cards to pass the time.
While rescuers have managed to get to Dujiangyan, they were still struggling to reach the epicentre of the quake in Wenchuan, less than 75km (46 miles) away.
Landslides in the hilly region, home to China's Giant Panda breeding centre at Wolong, have been hampering the rescue effort.
Some of the first aid to reach the area was brought in by 100 soldiers who had to make their journey on foot.
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