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381 dead as strong quake jolts SW China

Updated: 2014-08-03 17:07
( Xinhua/chinadaily.com.cn)

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

381 dead as strong quake jolts SW China

M6.5 quake hits SW China

Introduction to quake-hit Ludian county

Located in Yunnan province, Ludian county is 49 km from Zhaotong city.

The area covering 1,487 square kilometers has an average altitude of 1,917 meters and is adjacent to Huize county to the south and Qiaojia county to the west.

Ludian county is mainly agricultural and of its population of 408,000 people, an estimated 389,000 are farmers.

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.

However, Ma is worrying more about the family of her cousin, who live in the epicenter Longtoushan, as her calls to the families went unanswered.

"I just hope they are safe and sound. They didn't answer the calls," she said.

The quake toppled and cracked many buildings, particularly old ones and residential homes.

"Too many buildings were damaged and we are collecting data on deaths and injuries," said Chen Guoyong, head of the Longtoushan Township, adding an rescue operation is under way.

Sadness and scare are still hanging in the air in the crowded People's Hospital of Ludian County, where wards and corridors are filled with sickbeds, as doctors and nurses are working attentively to treat the injured.

Chen Lihong, a local villager hailing from Longtoushan Township, screamed out loud as a nurse helped turn over her body in bed. She broke her waist when her neighbor's house collapsed in the quake.

"The houses crumbled all at once," said Liu Lumei, Chen's mother-in-law while comforting Chen who was moaning in pain."It was so scary," Liu told Xinhua at the hospital.

Villager Tang Shaoyuan is also in the hospital taking care of his mother, who sustained injuries in her back, legs and shoulders.

"I was collecting red peppers in my house when the quake struck, so I ran outside immediately," Tang said."Two of my neighbors were buried under the ruins."

381 dead as strong quake jolts SW China

Part of a wall falls off a local building after a 6.5-magnitude earthquake hit Ludian county in southwest China's Yunnan province at 4:30 pm on Sunday.[Photo/SinaWeibo] 


Local authorities have dispatched more than 7,000 rescuers to the quake zone, including troops, police officers, fire-fighters and government officials.

They were joined by more than 2,500 troops sent by the Chengdu Military Area Command of the People's Liberation Army, and 60 medical workers and 90 rescuers sent by authorities in the neighboring Sichuan Province.

In addition, the Yunnan Branch of China Eastern Airlines has brought relief work teams to Zhaotong.

The civil affairs authorities said that 20,050 tents, 15,000 folding beds, 29,500 quilts and 25,000 coats have been sent to the area.

In a race to save more lives, the Red Cross Society of China and some non-governmental organizations have also sent relief supplies to Ludian.

However, unfavorable weather conditions may hamper rescue and relief work, as it is raining hard in the quake zone. More rains are forecast in the coming week, according to the China Meteorological Administration.

Located in the northeast of Yunnan, Ludian County has a population of about 430,000. A big number of houses in the county's rural area are mud-and-brick shacks that are extremely vulnerable in earthquakes.

Zhaotong, about 300 km from Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan, is on the quake belt and has been occasionally jolted by quakes.

In September 2012, a 5.7-magnitude quake caused more than 80 deaths and injured more than 800 people.

In 1974, a 7.1-magnitude quake in the same place killed more than 1,400 people.

Jiang Haikun, a research fellow with the CENC, said that aftershocks measuring 5 to 6 on the Richter scale are possible in the area, but he ruled out the possibility of stronger quakes in the epicenter.

"Yunnan is prone to moderate and strong quakes, and such quakes usually occur on similar scales. We will keep a close eye over the aftershocks," Jiang told Xinhua.