GANSU, CHINA: An overnight 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck China’s northwest Gansu province, resulting in the tragic loss of at least 111 lives, according to China’s state media on Tuesday (19 Dec).
The tremor, which was strong and shallow, prompted urgent rescue efforts as rescue workers mobilized to clear rubble, revealed state broadcaster CCTV, citing the provincial earthquake relief headquarters.
In Gansu province, approximately 100 people lost their lives, and numerous others suffered injuries.
Additionally, in the neighbouring province of Qinghai, specifically in the city of Haidong, 11 individuals lost their lives while around 100 sustained injuries, reported CCTV.
The earthquake caused extensive damage, including collapsed houses, compelling residents to seek safety by fleeing into the streets, as highlighted by state news agency Xinhua.
Several videos circulated on social media captured the abrupt and startling impact of the earthquake on residents.
One such video showed customers dining in a restaurant. In a sudden moment of shock, they hastily evacuated the premises as the earthquake struck, leaving their meals behind unfinished.
China President urges “all-out effort” on search and rescue works
Early on Tuesday, rescue operations were in full swing, accompanied by a call from Chinese President Xi Jinping for “all-out efforts” to prioritize search, relief work, and the safety of survivors and their belongings.
The epicentre of the earthquake, originally recorded as a magnitude 5.9 by the US Geological Survey, was in Gansu near the border with Qinghai, where Haidong is situated.
After the initial earthquake, several smaller aftershocks occurred.
Xinhua reported the quake, which was felt as far as Xi’an in northern Shaanxi province, approximately 570km away, as a magnitude 6.2.
The impact disrupted power and water supplies in some local villages, according to Xinhua.
Emergency vehicles with flashing lights hurried towards the affected areas along snow-lined highways, as depicted by CCTV.
Rescue workers, outfitted in overalls, were seen in trucks, and footage revealed them receiving instructions and going through debris using torchlights.
Additionally, videos posted on social media showcased fallen ceilings and debris.
The quake struck at a depth of 10km at 11:59 pm local time on Monday (1559 GMT), as per the USGS, which initially reported it as 6.0 but later revised it downward.
Immediately after the quake, officials initiated an emergency response and dispatched rescue teams to the affected region. Provincial leaders were also en route, as reported by Xinhua.
While earthquakes are not uncommon in China, the recent incident adds to a history of seismic events, including a 5.4-magnitude quake in eastern China in August that injured 23 people and caused the collapse of numerous buildings.
Similarly, in September 2022, a 6.6-magnitude quake hit Sichuan province, resulting in nearly 100 fatalities.
The devastating 7.9-magnitude quake in 2008 claimed the lives of over 87,000 people, including 5,335 school pupils.
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