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Earthquakes strike southwest China, kill 64
Publication Date : 08-09-2012
Successive earthquakes hit Southwest China's Yunnan and Guizhou provinces on Friday noon, leaving at least 64 dead and some 700,000 people affected.
Premier Wen Jiabao has flown to the quake-hit region.
The first quake took place at 11:19 am with a magnitude of 5.7, and only 57 minutes later a magnitude-5.6 earthquake followed.
The area had been hit by at least 16 aftershocks, according to Xinhua News Agency.
The epicentre was 14 kilometres deep in Luozehe township, about 33 km from the centre of Zhaotong city.
At least 64 people were confirmed killed, with 715 others injured.
The settlement of a zinc mine in Luozehe was seriously damaged. More than two dozen mining families have been evacuated.
"It is scary. My brother was killed by falling rocks. The aftershocks struck again and again. We are so afraid," said miner Peng Zhuwen.
Retired miner Liu Linde, 62, said he was thrown 3 meters off the road when the quake struck.
"When I returned, the gate of my house had collapsed. Cracks are everywhere on the walls," Liu said.
The earthquakes affected some 700,000 people.
The local government delivered 6,000 tents, 2,000 collapsible beds and mattresses, quilts and overcoats in the afternoon, and moved 100,000 people to safer places.
Yu Shihong, a grocery store owner in Yiliang county in Zhaotong, told China Daily that order started to return on Friday evening.
"When the earthquakes took place I was in my store. I felt the ground shake sharply, the house swung, the grocery containers fell. I was so scared so I ran out," Yu said.
"There were people crowded on the street and in the squares, everywhere, and all the stores were shut down," she added.
Now Yu has moved into an evacuation camp, where food and water are supplied.
"The National Committee for Disaster Reduction has sent an emergency team to Yunnan," said Qiu Yu, a staff member of the disaster relief office under the civil affairs department of Yunnan.
"The provincial government urged us to improve earthquake monitoring and prevent secondary disasters, and try every means to ensure people's safety, as well as ensure a supply of water, clothes and medical care," Qiu said.
However, the death toll may continue to rise as rescuers have yet to reach some of the quake-hit villages blocked by landslides and falling rocks, officials in Zhaotong said.
"The biggest difficulty now is traffic," said Li Fuchun, head of Luozehe township. "Roads are blocked and rescuers have to climb the mountains to reach hard-hit villages."
Huangfu Gang, head of the Yunnan earthquake administration, said the casualties may be severe because of dense population in the earthquake-stricken areas - which have 205 people per square kilometer - and because of poor housing quality as a result of a less developed economy.
Zhaotong, with a population of about 5.6 million, is prone to geological disasters. A magnitude-5.6 earthquake in 2003 killed four people and injured 594 in its county of Ludian. In 2010, rain-triggered landslides left 45 dead or missing in its county of Qiaojia.