Monday 11 November 2019

Death toll rises after China quake

Police help residents remove belongings from quake-damaged houses in Lalu village of Hetuo township in Minxian in north-west China (AP)
Police help residents remove belongings from quake-damaged houses in Lalu village of Hetuo township in Minxian in north-west China (AP)
Rescuers clear the debris of a damaged house in quake-hit Majiagou village of Minxian County in Gansu Province, China (AP)

Rescuers with shovels and sniffer dogs are combing through collapsed hillsides after the death toll from a strong earthquake in north-west China rose to 89.

Another five people were listed as missing and 628 injured after the quake near the city of Dingxi in Gansu province.

About 123,000 people were affected by the quake, with 31,600 moved to temporary shelters, the provincial earthquake administration said on its website. Almost 2,000 homes were destroyed and about 22,500 damaged.

The quake toppled brick walls and telephone lines, shattered mud-and-tile-roofed houses and sent cascades of dirt and rock down hillsides that blocked roads and slowed rescue efforts by crews trying to reach remote areas.

Hospitals set up aid stations in parking lots to accommodate large numbers of injured, while hundreds of paramilitary People's Armed Police fanned out to search for victims in the region of terraced farmland where the quake struck about 760 miles west of Beijing.

Damage was worst in Min county in Dingxi's rural southern portion, where scores of homes were damaged and telephone and electricity services knocked out, Dingxi mayor Tang Xiaoming told state broadcaster CCTV. All but three of the deaths, all the missing and most of the injured were in Min, a likely result of shoddy construction.

Residents said the shaking lasted about a minute, but was not strong enough to cause major damage in urban areas, where buildings are more solidly built. Tremors were felt in the provincial capital of Lanzhou, 110 miles north, and as far away as Xi'an, 250 miles to the east.

The government's earthquake monitoring centre said the quake was magnitude-6.6, while the US Geological Survey said it was 5.9. Measurements can often vary, especially if different monitoring equipment is used. The quake was shallow, which can be more destructive. The central government said it was about 12.4 miles deep, while the Gansu provincial earthquake administration said it was 3.7 miles deep.

The Chinese Red Cross said it was shipping 200 tents, 1,000 sets of household items, and 2,000 jackets to the area and sending teams from Lanzhou and Beijing to help with relief work and assess further needs. Other supplies were being shipped in by the army and paramilitary police, which dispatched around 6,000 personnel and two helicopters to aid rescue efforts.

Heavy rain is expected in the area later in the week, raising the need for shelter and increasing the chance of further landslides.

PA Media

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