September 9, 2012 – China Earthquake Kills 64, with 6,600 Homes Destroyed: A series of earthquakes shook two rural provinces in southwest China on Friday, killing at least 64 people and destroying more than 6,600 homes, provincial authorities said.
More than 200,000 people were evacuated from their homes in Yunnan, a province known for its scenic beauty and ethnic diversity, said the Yunnan Provincial Civil Affairs Bureau. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao flew to the earthquake zone on Friday evening.
In the town of Luozehe, a rice- and tobacco-growing area in northeastern Yunnan, 46 people were killed, according to Qiu Yu, an official with the civil affairs bureau. More than 700 people were injured and more than 120,000 homes seriously damaged, Mr. Qiu said.
The earthquake was so violent that rocks from landslides crushed cars in Luozehe (see picture above), a water company worker, Tan Xuewen, said in a telephone interview. “Suddenly we felt the strong earthquake,” Mr. Tan said. “Huge rocks fell off the mountain. I immediately grabbed an old person and began to run.”
The local government authorities ordered people out of their homes, which are spread across the hills of a mountain valley, and told them to gather in the public square.
Pictured below, Soldiers led residents and carried children after an earthquakes hit Yunnan Province and adjoining Guizhou Province on Friday.
At a tiny primary school in Luozehe, the teacher, Ma Decai, said his 11 students, ages 9 to 12, were eating lunch in the dining room when the earthquake hit.
“Dirt dropped from the ceiling into our bowls and cooking pots,” Mr. Ma said. The students abandoned their meals and ran out of the room, he said. As he tried to prepare a new lunch for the students, aftershocks struck the building.
Large cracks appeared in the mud and stone schoolhouse, and the toilet collapsed. “Workers used steel in the construction, but they cut corners,” Mr. Ma said. “It’s not safe.”
In neighboring Guizhou Province, the authorities said they knew of no casualties. But homes in rural Guizhou, often built of wood and mud, are usually constructed on hillsides, and provincial authorities said some homes had been damaged or destroyed.
Tents, blankets and coats were being sent to the region, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Pictured above, the location of the quake from the USGS. The tremor occurred 1 mile SW of Jiaokui, China; 52 miles NNW of Weining, China; 75 miles SW of Tunchang, China and 466 miles NNW of Hanoi, Vietnam. It was 4:16AM in London (GMT) and 12:16PM at the epicenter.
Guizhou, an area of rice farms and coal mines, is also undergoing major development, with hundreds of millions of dollars pumped into the province in the last year to build roads, bridges and industrial zones. It was not immediately known if any of the new projects were damaged by the earthquake.
In 2008, a severe earthquake struck Sichuan Province, north of Yunnan, killing nearly 90,000 people. Shoddy construction was blamed for many of the deaths. (Credits: Narrative – Jane Perlez for the New York Times, Research Patrick Zuo for the NYT, Pictures – Getty Images, Reuters and the Associated Press)
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