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Strong quake kills at least 175 in southern China
August 3, 2014, 5:13 pm
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An injured child is carried by paramilitary policemen on a stretcher after an earthquake hit Longtoushan township of Ludian county, Yunnan province August 3, 2014.

About 12,000 homes collapsed in Ludian, a densely populated county

A strong earthquake in southern China’s Yunnan province toppled thousands of homes on Sunday, killing at least 175 people and injuring more than 1,400.

About 12,000 homes collapsed in Ludian, a densely populated county located around 366 kilometres northeast of Yunnan’s capital, Kunming, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The magnitude-6.1 quake struck at 4:30pm at a depth of 10 kilometres, according to the US Geological Survey. Its epicentre was in Longtoushan township, 23 kilometres southwest of the city of Zhaotong, the Ludian county seat.

State television broadcast footage of people running from their homes and gathering in the street, as witnesses described the devastation on social media.

“The walls of several buildings crumbled, and water pipes were ruptured. The electricity was cut off,” wrote a user who said they lived in Ludian county, 23 kilometres from the epicentre, on China’s Twitter-like Weibo.

The user’s message was accompanied by images of cracked walls and a pile of bricks strewn across the road.

Another Ludian resident described the scene as resembling a “battlefield after bombardment”, telling Xinhua “I have never felt (such) strong tremors before. What I can see are all ruins.”

Ma Liya, a resident of Zhaotong, told Xinhua that the streets there were like a “battlefield after bombardment.” She added that her neighbour’s house, a new two-story building, had toppled.

Xinhua said at least 175 people were killed in the quake, with 181 missing and 1,402 injured.

At least 122 of the dead were in Ludian, with another 1,300 people injured there, Xinhua reported. It said another 49 people died, one was missing and 102 were injured in Qiaojia county, which has a population of 580,000.

News reports said rescuers were still trying to reach victims in more remote towns on Sunday night.

Photos on the Chinese social media site Weibo showed rescuers searching through flattened buildings and people injured amid toppled bricks.

Communications cut off

The homes that collapsed in Ludian, which has a population of about 429,000, were mostly old brick houses, Xinhua said, adding that electricity and telecommunications were cut off in the county.

The Red Cross Society of China has allocated 2,000 quilts, 2,000 jackets and 200 tents to aid those made homeless by the quake, while Red Cross branches in Hong Kong, Macau and neighbouring Sichuan province have also sent relief supplies, Xinhua said.

The mountainous region where the quake occurred is largely agricultural, with farming and mining the top industries, and is prone to earthquakes.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said the quake was the strongest to hit Yunnan in 14 years.

In 1970, a magnitude-7.7 earthquake in Yunnan killed at least 15,000 people, and a magnitude-7.1 quake in the province killed more than 1,400 in 1974. In September 2012, 81 people died and 821 were injured in a series of quakes in the Yunnan region.

In May 2008, a powerful quake in Sichuan province left nearly 90,000 people dead or missing.

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