Powerful quakes in China kill at least 75

500 troops rushed into disaster zone; rain to hamper rescue efforts

AFP-JIJI

A strong earthquake that shook an arid, hilly farming area in northwest China sparked landslides and destroyed or damaged thousands of mud-brick homes Monday, killing at least 75 people and injuring more than 400, the government said.

The quake near the city of Dingxi in Gansu province toppled brick walls and telephone poles, shattered mud-and-tile-roofed houses and sent cascades of dirt and rock down hillsides that blocked roads and slowed rescue efforts by crews trying to reach remote areas.

In addition to the 75 confirmed dead, there were 14 people missing and 459 injured, the central government’s China Earthquake Administration said.

The government’s earthquake monitoring center said the initial quake at 7:45 a.m. was magnitude 6.6 and subsequent tremors included a magnitude 5.6.

The quake was shallow, which can be more destructive. The U.S. Geological Survey measured the magnitude of the initial quake as 5.9 and the depth at 10 km.

The Chinese Red Cross said it was shipping 200 tents, 1,000 sets of household items and 2,000 jackets to the area, and sending teams from both Lanzhou and Beijing to help with relief work and assess further needs.

Heavy rain is expected in the area later in the week, raising the need for shelter and increasing the chance of further landslides.