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Xinhua Insight: Hundreds dead as strong quake hits southwest China

Editor: Ren Zhongxi 丨Xinhua

08-04-2014 07:47 BJT

Full coverage: 6.5-Magnitude Quake Hits Southwest China's Yunnan

LUDIAN, Yunnan, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- Rescuers are battling frequent aftershocks and heavy rains to search for survivors in the rubble after a 6.5-magnitude earthquake rattled southwest China's Yunnan Province Sunday, killing at least 367 people and injuring 1,801 others.

The strong quake struck at 4:30 p.m. Sunday (Beijing Time) with a depth of 12 km. The epicenter is in Longtoushan Township, 23 km southwest of the county seat of Ludian, in Zhaotong City, the China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC) reported.

In Zhaotong, the quake has left 296 people dead in Ludian, 60 dead in Qiaojia County and caused another death in the city's Zhaoyang District, according to the Yunnan Provincial Department of Civil Affairs.

Meanwhile, in Huize County of the neighboring Qujing City, the quake has killed 10 people.

In addition, five people are reported missing, including three in Qiaojia and two in Huize, and 57,200 residents need to be transferred to safe areas, according to the department.

In instructions issued late Sunday night, President Xi Jinping ordered that authorities concerned give top priority to saving people's lives, minimize casualties and guarantee a proper settlement for quake victims.

He called for all-out efforts in relief operation and strengthening aftershock monitoring to prevent secondary disasters.

Premier Li Keqiang also made instructions for disaster relief, urging local authorities to try every possible means to save the injured people and those buried in rubble.

He required that local authorities provide residents in quake zone with adequate food, clothes, clean drinking water, temporary shelters and timely medical treatment.

QUAKE WREAKS HAVOC

More than 12,000 houses have been toppled and 30,000 damaged in the quake zone. The quake has also cut traffic, electricity and telecommunications in Ludian County.

Aftershocks have triggered landslides and cracked many bridges, forcing rescuers to walk on foot to the quake-hit area.

The landslides blocked a river in Hongshiyan Village, forming a barrier lake that threatens 800 villagers.

Two main roads leading to Ludian that were damaged by the quake and downpours have reopened after emergency repair, staff of Zhaotong's road administration told Xinhua.

Zhou Minzheng, a resident of Longquan Village, was seen escorting his nephew to hospital late Sunday night. He told Xinhua that his nephew, whose parents were both killed in the quake, is in a coma. Their houses have collapsed.

Pictures and video clips on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, show firefighters helping those stuck in collapsed houses get out of the rubble. Many injured are put on stretchers by doctors and nurses while receiving intravenous injection.

Ma Hao, a college student who is volunteering for the rescue at Longtoushan Township, told Xinhua that he saw bodies buried in ruins, and that he helped to carry more than 40 injured people out of the collapsed buildings.

"Honestly, it's such a shame that we had no time to take care of the bodies. We need to help those alive first," he said.

"I felt a strong jolt on my fifth-floor home and some small objects in my home fell off the shelves," said a resident in the county seat of Ludian.

Another resident said it felt like "sailing a boat" when he was driving a car in the tremor.

Ma Liya, a resident in the county seat, told Xinhua via telephone that the streets were like "battlefield after bombardment." She added that the house of her neighbor, a new two-story building, was toppled.

"It's so terrible. The aftermath is much much worse than what happened after the quake two years ago. I have never felt so strong tremors before. What I can see are all ruins," she said.

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