Earthquake in Southwest China kills 46

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

The earthquake struck a mountainous area in Luding County shortly after noon, the China Earthquake Network Center said.

Sichuan, which sits on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau where the tectonic plates meet, is regularly hit by earthquakes. Two earthquakes in June killed at least four people.

Power was cut and buildings were damaged in the historic town of Moxi in Tibet’s Garze Autonomous Prefecture, where 29 people were killed. Tents have been erected for more than 50,000 people evacuated from homes made unsafe by the earthquake, the official Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday.

State television CCTV showed rescue teams pulling a woman who appeared to be unharmed from a collapsed house in Moxie, where many of the buildings are made of a mixture of wood and bricks. About 150 people were reported with varying degrees of injuries.

Authorities earlier reported 7 deaths in Luding County and another 14 in neighboring Shimian County to the south. Three of the dead were workers in the Hailuogou Scenic Area, Glacier and Forest Nature Reserve.

Rescuers transfer injured and trapped residents from Mozigou village on September 5, 2022 in Luding County, Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan

VCG/VCG via Getty Images

Along with the deaths, authorities reported rocks and earth falling from mountainsides, causing damage to homes and power outages, CCTV said. A landslide blocked a rural highway, leaving it strewn with rocks, the Ministry of Emergency Management said.

Buildings shook in Chengdu, 200 kilometers (125 miles) from the epicenter. Resident Jiang Danli said she hid under a desk for five minutes in her 31st-floor apartment. Many of her neighbors rushed downstairs, wary of aftershocks.

“There was a strong earthquake in June, but it wasn’t too bad. 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 have led to water shortages and power outages due to Sichuan’s reliance on hydropower. This comes on top of the latest major lockdown under China’s strict “zero COVID” policy.

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

The US Geological Survey registered Monday’s earthquake as a magnitude 6.6 at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles). Preliminary measurements from different agencies often differ slightly.

China’s deadliest earthquake in recent years was a 7.9-magnitude earthquake in 2008 that killed nearly 90,000 people in Sichuan. The earthquake devastated towns, schools and rural communities outside Chengdu, prompting a years-long effort to rebuild with more resilient materials.

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