Monday, 22 July 2013

At least 47 dead and 300 injured as quake strikes Chinese farms

At least 47 people have been killed and nearly 300 others were injured when a strong earthquake in a dry, hilly farming area in western China knocked down power lines and damaged scores of homes, the local government said.

The quake hit near the city of Dingxi in Gansu province, a region of mountains, desert and pastureland. Residents described shaking windows and swinging lights but little major damage and little panic. Tremors were felt in the provincial capital of Lanzhou 110 miles north, and as far away as Xi'an, 250 miles to the east.

"You could see the chandeliers wobble and the windows vibrating and making noise, but there aren't any cracks in the walls. Shop assistants all poured out on to the streets when the shaking began," said a front desk clerk at the Wuyang Hotel in Zhang County about 25 miles from the epicentre.

With a population of 26 million, Gansu is one of China's more lightly populated provinces, although Dingxi has a greater concentration of farms in rolling hills terraced with fields for crops and fruit trees. Dingxi has a total population of about 2.7 million and is about 766 miles west of Beijing.

The deaths and injuries were reported in Min County and other rural southern parts of the municipality, Dingxi mayor Tang Xiaoming told state broadcaster CCTV. He said damage was worst in the counties of Zhang and Min, where scores of homes were damaged and telephone and electricity services knocked out.

Su Wei, leader of a 120-member rescue team from the paramilitary People's Armed Police, told CCTV that they were on their way to the epicentre, but progress was being slowed by mud and rock slides blocking the road.

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 both Lanzhou and Beijing to help with relief work and assess further needs. Heavy rain is expected in the area later in the week, raising the need for shelter and increasing the chance of further landslides.

The government's earthquake monitoring centre said the initial quake at 7.45am local time (2345 GMT Sunday) was magnitude 6.6 and subsequent tremors included a magnitude 5.6. The US Geological Survey measured the magnitude of the initial quake as 5.9 and the depth at six miles. Initial measurements of an earthquake can vary widely, especially if different monitoring equipment is used.

The quake was shallow, which can be more destructive. The centre said it struck about 12.4 miles beneath the surface, while the Gansu provincial earthquake administration said it was just 3.7 miles deep.

China's worst earthquake in recent years was a 7.9 magnitude tremor which struck the south-western province of Sichuan in 2008, leaving 90,000 people dead or missing.

Monday 22 July 2013


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