Tuesday 21 October 2014

At least 367 dead after quake hits southwest China

* Quake struck in remote mountainous area of Yunnan province
* Government sending aid, rescuers

Published 03/08/2014 | 15:13

A general view shows collapsed houses after an earthquake hit Ludian county, Yunnan province August 3, 2014. A magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck southwestern China on Sunday, killing at least 150 people in a remote mountainous area of Yunnan province, causing some buildings, including a school, to collapse, Xinhua News Agency reported. REUTERS/China Daily (CHINA - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA
A general view shows collapsed houses after an earthquake hit Ludian county, Yunnan province
In this photo taken by cellphone and released by China's Xinhua News Agency, men at rubbles of buildings look for survivors after an earthquake in Ludian County of Zhaotong City in southwest China's Yunnan Province Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. A strong earthquake rattled southwest China on Sunday, knocking out communication and power lines and causing people to rush out of buildings, but there were no immediate reports of injuries. (AP Photo/Xinhua/Hu Chao) NO SALES
A strong earthquake rattled southwest China on Sunday, knocking out communication and power lines and causing people to rush out of buildings, but there were no immediate reports of injuries
An injured child is carried by paramilitary policemen on a stretcher after an earthquake hit Longtoushan township of Ludian county, Yunnan province August 3, 2014. A magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck southwestern China on Sunday, killing at least 26 people in a remote mountainous area of Yunnan province, causing some buildings to collapse including a school. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA
An injured child is carried by paramilitary policemen on a stretcher after an earthquake hit Longtoushan township of Ludian county, Yunnan province

A strong earthquake in southern China's Yunnan province has toppled thousands of homes, killing at least 367 people and injuring more than 1,800.

About 12,000 homes collapsed in Ludian, a densely populated county located around 277 miles (366km) north-east of Yunnan's capital, Kunming, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The magnitude-6.1 quake struck at 4.30pm local times at a depth of six miles (10km), according to the US Geological Survey. Its epicentre was in Longtoushan township, 14 miles (23km) south-west of the city of Zhaotong, the Ludian county seat.

Ma Liya, a resident of Zhaotong, told Xinhua that the streets there were like a "battlefield after bombardment". She added that her neighbour's house, a new two-storey building, had toppled, and said the quake was far worse than one that struck the area in 2012 and killed 81 people.

"The aftermath is much, much worse than what happened after the quake two years ago," Ms Ma said. "I have never felt such strong tremors before. What I can see are all ruins."

Xinhua said at least 367 people were killed in the quake, with 1,881 injured.

Most of the deaths - 357 - were in Zhaotong City, Xinhua said. Another 10 people were killed in Quijing City.

News reports said rescuers were still trying to reach victims in more remote towns tonight.

Photos on Weibo, China's Twitter-like social media site, showed rescuers searching through flattened buildings and people injured amid toppled bricks.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon offered "his condolences to the Chinese Government and the families of those killed", according to a statement from his office. The statement said the UN is ready to "lend its assistance to efforts to respond to humanitarian needs" and "to mobilise any international support needed".

Many of the homes that collapsed in Ludian, which has a population of about 429,000, were old and made of brick, Xinhua said, adding that electricity and telecommunications were cut off in the county.

The mountainous region where the quake occurred is largely agricultural, with farming and mining the top industries, and is prone to earthquakes.

Relief efforts are under way, with more than 2,500 troops dispatched to the disaster region, Xinhua said. The Red Cross Society of China allocated quilts, jackets and tents for those made homeless by the quake, while Red Cross branches in Hong Kong, Macau and neighbouring Sichuan province also sent relief supplies.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said the quake was the strongest to hit Yunnan in 14 years.

In 1970, a magnitude-7.7 earthquake in Yunnan killed at least 15,000 people, and a magnitude-7.1 quake in the province killed more than 1,400 in 1974. In September 2012, 81 people died and 821 were injured in a series of quakes in the Yunnan region.

In May 2008, a powerful quake in Sichuan province left nearly 90,000 people dead or missing.

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