Saturday, April 20, 2013

Seismic Alert - 6.6M Quake hits China: over 150 dead in Sichuan - USGS/Telegraph

<FONT color=red>ive report:</FONT> 7.0-magnitude quake hits SW China's Sichuan
Zhang Fulian, 64, weeps at the death of her 16-year-old grandson at Gucheng village, Longmen township, Lushan county of Ya’an city, Sichuan province. Her grandson died in the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that hit Lushan county. Zhang regrets not waking her grandson earlier, as he was preparing to take the high school entrance exam, the Beijing News reported Saturday.

M 6.6 Earthquake, 50km WSW of Linqiong, China

18 hours ago 

Location: 66 miles (107 km) NW of Leshan, Sich ... Show more
Posted 18 hours ago – U.S. Geological Survey
An earthquake with magnitude 6.6 occurred near Leshan, Sichuan, China at 00:02:47.27 UTC on Apr 20, 2013. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)

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China: over 150 dead in Sichuan earthquake

Tens of thousands of villagers were camped out in the open last night after a magnitude 7 earthquake destroyed a large swathe of south-west China.

The death toll from the quake stood at 156 overnight, with 5,000 injured, but is likely to climb significantly as rescue workers struggle to reach the worst-affected areas.
On Saturday night, the Daily Telegraph became the first foreign news organisation to reach the epicentre of the quake, witnessing the devastation at Lushan county, on the outskirts of Ya'an, a city of roughly 1.5 million in Sichuan province.
Huge slabs of concrete that had sheared off buildings lay by the side of the road, while survivors camped out amid the rubble in blue rescue tents.
"I was very scared, it felt like it was shaking for an hour," said Li Xiaoqin, a ten-year-old girl sitting by the side of a fire with her family in the village of Yuqi.
Her mother, Li Zhongmin, said the family of ten had fled their wooden house, which had been obliterated by the quake. "The first thing that went through my mind was to run. We got outside as soon as everything started shaking."
The initial quake, at just after 8am, was judged to be 6.6 magnitude by the United States Geological Survey and 7 magnitude by the Chinese authorities.
There were a further nine aftershocks over the course of the next hour, triggering mud slides in the tall mountains around the epicentre.
The quake occurred along the same Longmenshan fault line that ruptured during the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, a 7.9 magnitude disaster that claimed some 68,000 lives.
A single road to the disaster zone was blocked off by police yesterday in order to control the flow of traffic in and out of the area.
Every few hundred feet, huge boulders had rolled down from the mountains above and crashed into the tarmac, while the force of the earthquake had also opened gaping crevasses in the road, hampering the rescue effort.
The 80 mile journey from Chengdu, the provincial capital, took more than six hours, with frequent halts as soldiers dynamited obstacles on the road.
The village of Longmen was said by locals to have been the worst hit. Wang Zhenglun, a 60-year-old headmaster, said he was leading a team of volunteers to Longmen. "I have spoken to another teacher there, and they said 99 per cent of the houses had collapsed," he said.
Along the road to the epicentre, hundreds of People's Liberation Army trucks were providing food and aid, while firefighters, black-clad SWAT teams and civilian volunteers were all pouring up the mountain through Gaohe as the hunt for survivors continued. By last night, more than 51 people had reportedly been pulled from the rubble.
As darkness fell on the mountainous region, those trying to escape the worst hit villages brought with them horrific tales of destruction. "One girl has lost her legs," said Wang Yufang, a 60-year-old construction worker from Qiankou village, not far from the epicentre.
As the extent of the damage became clear, the Chinese authorities launched a level one emergency rescue plan, and the Chinese prime minister, Li Keqiang, flew first to Chengdu and then onto Lushan by helicopter.
Additional reporting by Zhao Rongkun

An aerial view shows houses damaged in Lushan county, Ya'an, Sichuan province (Reuters)
Some 7,000 soldiers were also mobilised to help unblock roads and search the debris while convoys of helicopters ferried the dead and injured out of the more remote areas of the disaster zone.
"The current most urgent issue is grasping the first 24 hours since the quake's occurrence, the golden time for saving lives," said Mr Li, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
In another complication, rain started to fall on the region last night and forecasts suggested there would be more rain in the coming days. The China Meteorological Administration warned of possible landslides and other geological disasters.
The local earthquake administration added that there had been a total of 712 aftershocks by last night.
"It is a mountainous rural area, which was also badly hit by the 2008 earthquake, with many houses destroyed and needing to be rebuilt," said a statement from the International Red Cross, which was scrambling to provide assistance.
"Local authorities say that several key roads are blocked, making it challenging for rescue teams to get to the worst-hit townships within Lushan County, some of which are believed to be very badly damaged," it added.


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