Mon, September 01, 2008
China > Mainland

Death toll from magnitude-6.1 quake jumps to 32 in SW China

2008-09-01 00:41:57 GMT2008-09-01 08:41:57 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English

Zhou Yuanfu, a doctor of the local hospital, tries to clean his kitchen after the earthquake, in Lixi Township, Huili County, southwest China's Sichuan Province, Aug. 31, 2008. An aftershock of 5.6 magnitude hit the juncture area of Renhe District in Panzhihua City and Huili County in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture on Sunday afternoon, one day after the 6.1 magnitude quake hitting the same area. (Xinhua)

Firefighters dig, bare-handed, two bodies out of the debris in quake-hit Huili county in Sichuan Province August 31, 2008. Death toll from the 6.1-magnitude earthquake has risen to 32 in Sichuan and Yunnan, and more than 400 were injured. [Xinhua]

Staff members of a local hospital clear the ruins hit by the earthquake in Lixi Township, Huili County, southwest China's Sichuan Province, Aug. 31, 2008. An aftershock of 5.6 magnitude hit the juncture area of Renhe District in Panzhihua City and Huili County in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture on Sunday afternoon, one day after the 6.1 magnitude quake hitting the same area. The death toll of Saturday's quake has risen to 28, while no damage caused by the aftershock has been reported.(Xinhua)

Two staff members salvage usable items from a seriously damaged house at a hospital in Lixi Township, Huili County, southwest China's Sichuan Province, Aug. 31, 2008. An aftershock of 5.6 magnitude hit the juncture area of Renhe District in Panzhihua City and Huili County in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture on Sunday afternoon, one day after the 6.1 magnitude quake hitting the same area. (Xinhua)

Firefighters and rescuers try to lift a buffalo out of the debris in quake-hit Huili county in Sichuan Province August 31, 2008. Death toll from the 6.1-magnitude earthquake has risen to 32 in Sichuan and Yunnan, and more than 400 were injured. [Xinhua]

BEIJING, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- The 6.1-magnitude quake that jolted southwest China's Sichuan and Yunnan provinces on Saturday has killed 32 people, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Sichuan reported 27 deaths and the other five were in Yunnan, the ministry said Sunday night.

The quake that occurred at 4:30 p.m Saturday also injured more than 400 people.

The epicenter was at the juncture of Renhe District in Panzhihua and Huili County in Yi Autonomous Prefecture of Liangshan, Sichuan. It was at a depth of 10 km, the China Earthquake Administration said.

QUAKE IMPACT AND DAMAGE

Areas affected by the quake were Panzhihua and Huili, both in Sichuan, and Yi Autonomous Prefecture of Chuxiong, Bai Autonomous Prefecture of Dali, Lijiang and Zhaotong cities, all in Yunnan Province. Kunming, the Yunnan capital, was also hit.

Most of the fatalities, however, were in Huili, Chuxiong and Panzhihua. All the three areas are on the southern end of the fault line of the May 12 quake that left more than 69,000 people dead and nearly 18,000 missing.

Another 6.0-plus magnitude quake, however, was not expected in the area in the next two weeks, said Liu Jie, chief forecaster of the Beijing-based Chinese Seismographic Information Center, on Saturday.

More than 300 aftershocks were also monitored in the quake zone as of 5 a.m. on Sunday, according to the national earthquake networks.

The networks monitored an aftershock of 5.6 magnitude in the same area of Saturday's quake at 4:31 p.m. on Sunday.

Panzhihua City Quake Control and Relief Headquarters on Sunday confirmed more than 70,000 people in the city were affected by the quake. In addition, more than 32,000 people were displaced.

In total, 38,425 residences suffered damage in the quake, of which 363 homes were toppled. Seven reservoirs, 22 highways and three bridges were also damaged.

The Panzhihua education authority said cracks were found on the buildings of more than 100 schools, of which 66 were in Renhe, a hard-hit district in the city.

"I am afraid these schools will not open for the new semester starting on Monday," said Shen Zhiqiang, an official with the Panzhihua City bureau of education.

"The figure (of schools affected by the quake) might go up, as damages in some primary schools based in remote mountainous villages were not reported yet due to inconvenient transport conditions," Shen said.

Further south, 600,000 people in five regions of Yunnan were affected by the quake. This included five deaths, more than 170 injured people and the destruction of 130,00 residences, said a Yunnan Provincial Bureau of Civil Affairs source.

The worst hit was Chuxiong where the five deaths were recorded. Destroyed were 111,448 homes, 656 school buildings and 213 buildings totaling 65,554 square meters of floor space. The direct economic loss was put at 500 million yuan (about 73 million U.S. dollars), according to the office for the quake control and relief headquarters of Chuxiong.

RELIEF OPERATION

On Saturday, China Earthquake Administration launched a level-three emergency response and dispatched an on-site working team to offer assistance after the quake struck.

In addition, the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs began a level-four emergency response mechanism at 5 p.m.. The civil affairs departments in Panzhihua and Yunnan began a class-three emergency response to cope with the aftermath of the quake.

Panzhihua government officials rushed to the quake zone to direct relief efforts. Relief materials, including water, food and300 tents, as well as emergency financial aid of 5 million yuan, were sent to the quake-affected areas.

More than 2,000 people in Huili were mobilized to join the relief operation that was hampered by heavy rain late on Saturday and early Sunday.

In total, 1,200 tents, together with about 10 tons of food and water were sent to quake zones in Huili, according to Huang Ling, the Huili County Government deputy chief.

On Sunday, Sichuan Provincial Weather Observatory issued a forecast saying the weather in the coming week would be overcast with showers or thunder showers, making the relief effort difficult.

The Yunnan Provincial Bureau of Civil Affairs said it had already sent relief materials including 3,200 tents, 1,000 cotton-padded quilts and 25 tons of rice to quake zones in the province. Chuxiong Prefecture had also allocated 350,000 yuan for disaster relief.

The Jet Li One Foundation, initiated by Chinese film star Jet Li, earmarked 2.5 million yuan and donated materials worth 250,000 yuan on Sunday to the affected areas in the two provinces.

RESUMPTION OF DISRUPTED SERVICES

Traffic on the north-south rail line from Chengdu, the Sichuan capital, to Kunming, which runs all the way through the quake zone, was disrupted temporarily on Saturday and resumed on Sunday.

Some stops on the 1,100 km rail line were damaged, which led to the cancellation of three freight trains, a Kunming Railways Administration source said.

"Resumption of this railway service will guarantee the delivery of relief materials to the quake zone centered on Panzhihua," saida Kunming Railways Administration official.

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