In China, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake kills nearly fifty

In China, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake kills nearly fifty
A powerful 6.6 magnitude earthquake hit Sichuan province (southwest China) on September 5, 2022.

At least forty-six dead, roads blocked and homes “seriously damaged” : A powerful earthquake hit a mountainous area in southwestern China on Monday, September 5, mobilizing thousands of rescuers, state media said.

The tremor was recorded at 12:52 p.m. local time (6:52 a.m. Paris time) in Sichuan province, said the United States Institute of Geological Studies (USGS) – world reference body for earthquakes. The epicenter is 39 kilometers from Luding district, according to Chinese public television CCTV, in an area that is not very densely populated.

The latest provisional toll, revised upwards in the evening, now reports at least forty-six dead, according to national television, which also mentions sixteen missing and fifty injured. The previous report reported “more than thirty dead”.

The tremor was also felt some 200 kilometers from the epicenter, in the provincial capital, Chengdu, whose twenty-one million inhabitants are currently confined to their homes due to an outbreak of Covid-19. Authorities did not report any damage in the provincial capital.

Read also: In the Philippines, a magnitude 7 earthquake sows panic

Damaged houses

Faced with a toll that could grow even heavier, Chinese President Xi Jinping called “to do everything to help people affected by the disaster and minimize human losses”reported the new China agency.

CCTV broadcast footage of firefighters in orange gear clearing fallen rocks on a road and a blue sedan car with its windscreen smashed by a huge rock.

Images from China's state-run CCTV show the damage caused by the earthquake that hit a mountainous area in southwest China, mobilizing thousands of rescuers on September 5, 2022.

Close to the epicenter, the authorities of the city of Ya’an speak of “damage at various levels” in the affected areas. “Houses were seriously damaged” and “telecommunications have been cut off” in some places near the epicenter, said the neighboring prefecture of Garze, where twenty-nine victims were counted.

A video released by the China Seismic Network Center shows boulders rolling down a hill in Luding Township, kicking up clouds of dust, and phone lines flickering from the tremors. The center reported several aftershocks of lesser intensity after the first earthquake.

Blankets and folding beds

More than 1,000 soldiers and army officers are mobilized, according to the Sichuan Seismological Bureau, which released images of its engineers, equipped with laptops, going to the scene. According to CCTV, the local authorities have also dispatched several thousand rescuers, firefighters, doctors or members of the people’s armed police – gendarmes in charge of public security, mobilized during disasters.

Authorities have transported thousands of tents, blankets and folding beds to the affected areas to help people whose homes have been damaged, CCTV reported.

Sichuan, very mountainous, is known worldwide for its reserves of giant pandas. The province is regularly hit by earthquakes. In June, a 6.1 magnitude earthquake had already shaken this region, killing at least four people and injuring dozens. In May 2008, a very powerful earthquake, of magnitude 7.9, left 87,000 dead or missing in Sichuan. The disaster was a national shock.

The World with AFP

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