April 22, 2013

CHINA: UPDATE 6.6 Magnitude Earthquake: Death Toll Passes 200 With 11,000 Injured, Almost 1,000 Of Them Seriously In Remote Sichuan

The Metro
written by Staff
Sunday April 21, 2013

At least 203 people are believed to have died following a powerful earthquake in China.

Some 11,500 were injured – almost 1,000 of them seriously – when the 6.6-magnitude earthquake struck near remote hill villages in Sichuan province.

The body count is expected to rise as more than 15,000 rescuers search the rubble for survivors, although many emergency workers have been forced to walk to the disaster scene after roads were blocked by landslides.

The rescue effort has also been hit by aftershocks that were almost as strong as the initial quake.

More than 6,000 troops have joined the rescue efforts, but one soldier died and seven were injured when their vehicle plunged over a ravine into a river on their way to the epicentre.

Elsewhere, reports have revealed how a mother managed to lift concrete weighing 50kg to rescue her son, while a woman gave birth at a bike shelter just after the quake hit.

Footage on TV also showed rescuers pulling a baby alive from the rubble. Its mother was also saved.

The quake struck on Saturday near the city of Ya’an, hitting remote hillside farming communities the hardest and destroying about half the buildings in one area.

Tremors were felt in neighbouring provinces and in the provincial capital Chengdu. Users of the microblogging service Weibo posted images of the destruction and described scenes of panic.

Sichuan was devastated by a 7.9-magnitude quake five years ago, killing 68,000 people and leaving five million homeless.

The Chinese government was criticised at the time for its poor response and for allowing poorly-constructed buildings in the quake zone. This time, unmanned drones have been used to send back pictures and assess damage.

China’s new premier Li Keqiang has also visited the region to survey the damage, as tens of thousands of people spent the night in tents or cars.

British foreign secretary William Hague said: ‘My thoughts are also with the Chinese authorities and the emergency services as they continue their rescue efforts.’

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