April 17, 2024

More than 100 people have been killed after an earthquake hit northwestern China while many people were asleep.

The earthquake, measured at 6.2 according to state news agency Xinhua, struck at about midnight in Gansu Province near the border with Qinghai, causing significant damage, state media reported on Tuesday.

The tremor was felt as far away as Xi’an in northern Shaanxi province, about 570 kilometres (350 miles) from the epicentre.

Gansu provincial authorities told a press conference that as of 7.50am (23:50 GMT on Monday), 105 people had been confirmed dead, and 397 injured. More than 4,700 houses had been damaged, they added. Power and water supplies were disrupted in some villages, Xinhua said.

According to CCTV, at least 11 people were also killed in the city of Haidong in Qinghai. Haidong is situated close to the epicentre about 100km (60 miles) southwest of Gansu Province’s capital, Lanzhou.

People living close to the epicentre rushed out onto the street as they felt the earthquake. Some buildings collapsed.

“I live on the 16th floor and felt the tremors so strongly,” a man named Qin was quoted as saying in the state-run Global Times. “The moment of the earthquake was feeling like being tossed up after surging waves… I woke my family up and we rushed down all 16 floors in one breath.

Qin added that it was minus 12 degrees Celsius (10.4 Fahrenheit), and that while some of his neighbours had put on down jackets or wrapped themselves in blankets others were bare-chested.

Rescue work was under way with Chinese President Xi Jinping calling for “all-out efforts” in the search and relief work. Nearly 1,500 firefighters were deployed with another 1,500 on stand-by, according to state media. More than 300 officers and soldiers were also mobilised for disaster relief.

Supplies including drinking water, blankets, stoves and instant noodles were also being sent to the affected area.

Footage on state television showed emergency vehicles driving along snow-lined highways, and rescue workers pictured shoulder-to-shoulder in the trucks.

The US Geological Survey reported the quake was a magnitude 5.9, while the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said it was a magnitude 6.1.

The earthquake struck at a depth of 10km (6 miles) at 11:59 pm local time on Monday (15:59 GMT), according to the USGS, which initially reported the magnitude at 6.0. Multiple aftershocks were reported.

Gansu has a population of about 26 million people and includes part of the Gobi Desert.

Earthquakes are not uncommon in China.

In September 2022, a 6.6-magnitude quake hit Sichuan Province leaving almost 100 dead.

A 7.9-magnitude quake in Sichuan in 2008 left more than 87,000 people dead or missing, including 5,335 children who were in school at the time it happened.

At least 242,000 people were killed in 1976 after an earthquake struck Tangshan in the worst natural disaster in Chinese history.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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