China: 74 dead, 259 injured after earthquake triggers landslides

At least 26 other people are missing



Photos: AP
Photos: AP

By AP

Published: Tue 6 Sep 2022, 10:45 AM

Last updated: Wed 7 Sep 2022, 7:29 AM

The powerful earthquake that set off landslides and shook buildings in southwestern China killed at least 72 people and injured 259, state media said on Wednesday.

At least 26 other people are missing, a day after a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck a mountainous area in Luding county of the Sichuan province, which sits on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau where tectonic plates meet and, is hit regularly by quakes. The temblor shook buildings in the provincial capital of Chengdu, whose 21 million residents are already under a Covid-19 lockdown.

Power was knocked out and buildings were damaged in the historic town of Moxi, situated in the Tibetan prefecture of Garze, where 37 people were killed. Tents were erected for more than 50,000 people being moved from homes made unsafe by the quake, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

State broadcaster CCTV showed rescue crews pulling a woman who appeared uninjured from a collapsed home in Moxi, where many of the buildings are constructed from a mix of wood and brick. Around 150 people were reported with varying degrees of injuries.

On Wednesday morning, the China Earthquake Networks Centre recorded a 3.0-magnitude aftershock at the epicentre, at a depth of 12km.

Another 28 people were killed in neighboring Shimian county on the outskirts of the city of Ya'an, with about 248 people reported as injured, mainly in Moxi. 12 people were reported missing.

Three of the dead were workers at the Hailuogou Scenic Area, a glacier and forest nature reserve.

Along with the deaths, authorities reported stones and soil falling from mountainsides, causing damage to homes and power interruptions, CCTV said. One landslide blocked a rural highway, leaving it strewn with rocks, the Ministry of Emergency Management said.

Buildings shook in Chengdu, 200km from the epicenter.

The earthquake and lockdown follow a heat wave and drought that led to water shortages and power cuts, due to Sichuan’s reliance on hydropower. This comes on top of the latest major lockdown, under China’s strict “zero-Covid” policy.

China’s deadliest earthquake in recent years was a 7.9 magnitude quake in 2008 that killed nearly 90,000 people in Sichuan. The temblor devastated towns, schools and rural communities outside Chengdu, leading to a years-long effort to rebuild, with more resistant materials. The country is now slowly reopening roads near the epicentre, as traffic resumes.

Weather forecasters have also warned of the prospect of heavy rains in the region until Friday.

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