Tue, October 07, 2008
China > Mainland

Earthquake jolts area near Lhasa, killing at least 9

2008-10-06 19:40:43 GMT2008-10-07 03:40:43 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English

A woman with her child walks past the collapsed building in Gedar Village of Yangbajain Township, Damxung County in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Oct. 6, 2008.(Xinhua photo)

A local farmer checks the damaged building in Gedar Township of Damxung County in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Oct. 6, 2008.

The collapsed building is seen in Gedar Village of Yangbajain Township, Damxung County in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Oct. 6, 2008. At least 30 people were killed in the earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale that jolted Damxung County in Lhasa at 4:30 p.m. Monday, local government said. The victims were found in Gedar township of Damxung County, the epicenter. More people were still buried in debris and many houses collapsed, said the Tibet Autonomous Region Government.(Xi

LHASA, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- At least nine people were killed in a strong earthquake that jolted a county near Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, on Monday, the rescue headquarters confirmed early Tuesday morning.

The previous "at least 30" death toll was inaccurate due to unauthoritative sources and needs further check.

Rescuers arrived at Yangyi Village, the worst-hit site in Gedar Township of Damxung County, late Monday night after repairing the road once paralyzed in the 6.6-magnitude tremor.

At least 147 houses in Yangyi and villages in a neighboring county collapsed. Rescuers recovered nine bodies from the debris, and 11 people were seriously injured while eight others received light injuries, Hao Peng, deputy chairman of the autonomous regional government and head of the rescue command, told Xinhua.

More than 600 soldiers, police officers, firefighters, traffic, medical and geological experts were rushing to the quake zone.

Food, drinking water, tents and other materials had been transported to the area. Rescue operation was underway. The injured were being sent to local hospitals.

An earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale jolted Damxung,82 km from Lhasa, at 4:30 p.m. Monday. The epicenter was at 29.8 degrees north and 90.3 degrees east.

Tremors were felt in Lhasa, but no major damages were found in buildings or historical sites there, including the famed Potala Palace and the Jokhang Temple.

"We examined every palace and building right after the quake and no damages were found," said Jamba Gesang, head of the management department of the Potala Palace.

The Jokhang Temple kept hosting visitors as all constructions were unaffected in the tremor.

Key cultural relics also stayed intact, as the sites were far from the epicenter, said Yu Dawa, chief of the cultural heritage bureau of Tibet.

The famous Bargor Street was as bustling as usual.

The Qinghai-Tibet railway and Lhasa airport remained in normal services.

"The downtown area of Lhasa is relatively safe and there is no need to be panic," Zhu Quan, head of the local seismological bureau, told Xinhua.

More aftershocks may hit Damxung but would not cause damages to buildings in the downtown area, Zhu said.

The quake was measured at level VIII on the 12-level MMI (modified mercalli intensity) scale in the epicenter and it was felt at level V in Lhasa, Zhu said at a press conference.

The MMI scale measures the intensity of an earthquake from its perceptible effects with level V indicating it could be felt by everyone and could break windows. At level VIII, a quake can result in partial collapse of ordinary buildings.

"I was shaken for a few seconds, and lamps in the office swayed. Then everything returned to normal," Xinhua reporter Xue Wenxian said.

Classes ended early in some schools in Lhasa.

The national seismological network recorded another earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter Scale in the county at 8:10 p.m. Monday. The regional earthquake monitoring network said it had observed 15 aftershocks.

An emergency response scheme was launched across the region soon after the quake broke out. The local government has sent a working team to guide relief operation in the quake-hit areas.

The rescue headquarters asked relative authorities to release quake information to the public in time.

Another 6.8-magnitude earthquake shook Tibet's neighboring region of Xinjiang on Sunday, but no casualties have yet been reported.

The quake hit at 11:52 p.m., with its epicenter at 39.6 degrees north and 73.9 degrees east in a mountainous area about 100 km from the county seat of Wuqia, Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture.

Xinjiang earthquake monitoring network said it had observed 196aftershocks as of 1:30 p.m. on Monday, including two above magnitude 5.

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