Earthquake in Southwest China Leaves 46 Dead

BEIJING — At least 46 people were reported killed and 16 missing in a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that shook China’s southwestern province of Sichuan on Monday, triggering landslides and shaking buildings in the provincial capital of Chengdu, whose 21 million residents are already under a COVID-19 lockdown.

China Earthquake Networks Center reported that the earthquake struck Luding’s mountainous areas shortly after noon.

Sichuan is a city that lies on the Tibetan Plateau’s edge. It experiences earthquakes regularly. At least four were killed in two earthquakes that struck June.

In the Tibetan autonomous Prefecture of Garze in Tibet, power was cut and buildings were damaged. 29 people died in that incident. The official Xinhua News Agency Tuesday reported that tents had been set up to accommodate more than 50,000 persons who were being evacuated from houses made uninhabitable by the earthquake.

CCTV showed rescue teams pulling a woman out of a Moxi home that had collapsed. Most of Moxi buildings are built from brick and wood. There were around 150 victims with various degrees of injury.

Authorities had earlier reported seven deaths in Luding County and fourteen more in the neighboring Shimian counties to the south. The Hailuogou Scenic Area is a forest reserve and glacier, where three of the victims were employees.

Rescuers rescue trapped people from Mozigou Village on September 5, 2022 at Luding County in Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Sichuan

VCG/VCG through Getty Images

CCTV reported that authorities also received reports of stones and soil being thrown from the mountainsides. This caused power outages and damage to houses. The Ministry of Emergency Management stated that a landlide caused a blockage of a rural highway and left it with boulders.

In Chengdu 200 km (125 miles) from the epicenter, buildings shook. Jiang Danli, a resident said that she was forced to hide under a desk in her apartment on the 31st floor for five minutes. Fearful of any aftershocks, many of her neighbours raced downstairs.

“There was a strong earthquake in June, but it wasn’t very scary. This time I was really scared, because I live on a high floor and the shaking made me dizzy,” she told The Associated Press.

The earthquake and lockdown follow a heat wave and drought that led to water shortages and power cuts due to Sichuan’s reliance on hydropower. That comes on top of the latest major lockdown under China’s strict “zero-COVID” policy.

The past two months in Chengdu “have been weird,” Jiang said.

The U.S. Geological Survey recorded a magnitude of 6.6 for Monday’s quake at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles). Sometimes, preliminary measurements from different agencies differ slightly.

China’s deadliest earthquake in recent years was a 7.9 magnitude quake in 2008 that killed nearly 90,000 people in Sichuan. It devastated schools, towns and villages outside Chengdu. This led to years of work to build stronger materials.

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