The deadliest earthquake in 13 years strikes northwest China, claiming 118 lives

The deadliest earthquake in 13 years strikes northwest China, claiming 118 lives

China grapples with a devastating earthquake in Gansu province, claiming at least 118 lives and marking the country’s deadliest seismic event in 13 years. The 6.2-magnitude quake, also felt in neighbouring Qinghai, struck around midnight on Monday, causing widespread destruction in the mountainous region.

President Xi Jinping has deployed thousands of rescue personnel to the area, facing icy conditions with temperatures dropping to -13C (8.7F). The quake has left hundreds injured, and fatalities may rise as rescue efforts continue. State TV and social media show footage of villages split, buildings collapsed, and survivors seeking refuge in makeshift camps.

Residents recount the terror of being “tossed by surging waves,” prompting them to evacuate their homes. One survivor describes rushing down all 16 floors with family members to escape the tremors. Jishishan County in Gansu bears the brunt, with over 5,000 damaged buildings attributed to poor construction quality in the region’s villages, many of which are old and made of clay.

Gansu, situated between the Tibetan and Loess plateaus, is one of China’s poorest and most ethnically diverse regions. The quake’s epicentre lies in Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, home to various Chinese Muslim groups. The remote area faces challenges with disrupted power and water supplies, hindering rescue operations.

Chinese authorities report a magnitude of 6.2 on the Richter scale, while the US Geological Survey records 5.9 with a depth of 10km. Approximately 10 aftershocks have been reported, contributing to the challenges faced by rescue teams.

President Xi emphasises the urgency of search and rescue efforts, prompt treatment of the injured, and minimising casualties in harsh conditions. This earthquake follows last year’s 6.6-magnitude quake in Sichuan Province, which claimed over 60 lives. The current disaster is the deadliest since the 2010 quake in Yushu, Qinghai, which resulted in nearly 2,700 casualties.


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