Sat, Jul 11, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Chinese earthquake flattens thousands of homes, kills one

AP AND AFP , BEIJING

Emergency officials were evacuating more than 400,000 people yesterday after an earthquake hit southwest China, killing one person, injuring hundreds and flattening more than 18,000 homes.

A government relief official in Yao’an county, a mountainous area of picturesque Yunnan Province, said that one person had died and 328 had been injured.

The US Geological Survey said the moderate 5.7 magnitude quake struck at 7:19pm on Thursday at a shallow depth of 10km in Yunnan Province.

“I was harvesting tobacco leaves ... when the quake hit. I felt dizzy and saw villagers falling over. Many houses collapsed,” Dong Zhaofu, a farmer in Yao’an county, told Xinhua news agency.

A 50-year-old woman was buried in the debris of collapsed houses and died later in hospital from serious blood loss, Xinhua said, citing local officials.

The quake was centered on a relatively sparsely populated area 98km east-northeast of the city of Dali.

Eight aftershocks followed, driving residents outdoors into the warm night for fear of greater damage, Xinhua said.

More than 18,000 houses collapsed and more than 75,000 others were damaged in six counties of Yunnan, with 30 people suffering serious injuries, it said.

More than 1,000 soldiers and police officers, including about 300 from neighboring Sichuan Province, were helping residents to safety, Xinhua said.

The report said China’s civil affairs ministry had ordered the immediate delivery of 5,000 tents and other relief materials. The provincial civil affairs department has already allocated 4,000 tents, 3,000 quilts and other relief materials to Yao’an.

Yunnan Governor Qin Guang­rong ordered 20 million yuan (US$2.9 million) be allocated for disaster relief, the agency said. However, emergency officials estimated damage could cost the local economy 2.5 billion yuan, it reported.

Last year in Sichuan, nearly 87,000 people were left dead or missing when a massive 8.0 magnitude earthquake shook the province in China’s mountainous southwest.

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