China quake toll reaches 118, rescuers battle sub-zero temp to reach survivors - Greater Kashmir

by · Greater Kashmir

Beijing, Dec 19: The death from a powerful earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale that jolted China’s Gansu province has increased to 118 on Tuesday, with rescuers battling sub-zero temperatures to reach survivors, authorities said.

Of the overall deaths toll, 105 were reported in Gansu, while 13 fatalities were recorded in the neighbouring Qinghai province.

At least 20 people remain unaccounted for as rescuers continue to comb through the rubble.

According to the China Earthquake Networks Center, the quake occurred at 11.59 p.m. on Monday night and has a focal depth of 10 km, reports Xinhua news agency.

The epicentreLiugou Township is about 8 km from the county seat of Jishishan Bao’an, Dongxiang, Salar Autonomous County in Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu.

The earthquake has also left 199 injured and damaged 6,381 houses in Jishishan, Gansu.

As of 8 a.m., 32 aftershocks were recorded, with the largest registering a magnitude of 4.0, according to a spokesperson for the provincial emergency management department, at the press conference.

The quake destroyed some rural roads and led to power outages and telecommunication failures in some areas.

Currently, the overall road traffic, power supply and communications disrupted by the quake have been resumed after emergency repairs, the spokesperson said.

With temperatures dropping to 16 degrees Celsius below zero at dawn on tuesday, the first batch of relief supplies, including coats, quilts, folding beds, tents and stoves were sent to the disaster-affected areas.

The China Railway Lanzhou Group Co., Ltd. launched an emergency response in the wake of the quake, including suspending trains that were in operation in the affected area and sending personnel to check the railway lines.

As of 2.45 a.m. Tuesday, the train service had been gradually resumed.

Following the earthquake, the National Health Commission dispatched a team of medical experts to the affected region.

Additionally, it has mobilised emergency medical teams from various regions, including Sichuan, Shaanxi and Ningxia, to support rescue efforts in both Gansu and Qinghai.

President Xi Jinping has ordered full rescue efforts to Gansu.

In a statement, President Xi Jinping said that “all efforts should be made to carry out search and rescue, treat the injured in a timely manner, and minimise casualties”.

Gansu, one of China’s poorest regions, lies between the Tibetan and Loess plateaus and borders Mongolia.

China sits in a region where a number of tectonic plates — notably the Eurasian, Indian and Pacific plates — meet, and is particularly prone to earthquakes.

Last September, more than 60 people were killed when a 6.6-magnitude quake hit the southwestern Sichuan province.

A 1920 earthquake in Gansu , which killed more than 200,000 people, is also recorded as one of the world’s deadliest in the 20th century.