67 killed, hundreds injured as two earthquakes hit China
08 September, 2012
BEIJING: At least 67 people were killed and 731 injured when two earthquakes struck a remote and mountainous area of southwest China on Friday, toppling houses and sending panicked crowds onto the streets.
Residents described how people ran out of buildings screaming as the two shallow quakes hit on the border of Yunnan and Guizhou provinces an hour apart around the middle of the day. They were followed by a string of aftershocks. Authorities were sending thousands of tents, quilts and coats, and Premier Wen Jiabao was also heading to the area, the state Xinhua news agency said, confirming the death and injured toll, which rose steadily throughout the day.
Footage on state television network CCTV showed hundreds of people crowded into a sports field in Yiliang. People took cover outside after the first quake and did not return indoors, said a man. "Lots of people are outside because they fear aftershocks," he said.
The US Geological Survey said the first quake struck at 11.20am at a depth of around six miles, with the second quake around an hour later, putting the magnitude of both at 5.6. Li Fuchun, the head Luozehe township, identified as the epicentre, told Xinhua: "Roads are blocked and rescuers have to climb mountains to reach hard-hit villagers".
Yunnan's civil affairs department said that 6,650 houses had been destroyed and 100,000 people evacuated. The death toll could still rise because a few villages remain blocked by landslides, Xinhua said, quoting a seismologist as saying that the hardest-hit areas are relatively populous and poor, meaning buildings collapsed easily.