July 22, 2013 – CHINA – Two powerful earthquakes have struck China’s north-west Gansu province, killing at least 94 people and leaving more than 400 others injured. The first earthquake near Dingxi city had a magnitude of 5.9 and was shallow, with a depth of just 9.8 km (6 miles), the US Geological Survey said. Just over an hour later, a magnitude 5.6 quake hit the same area, it added. In 2008, an earthquake in Sichuan province left up to 90,000 people dead and millions homeless. A factory worker in Minxian county told AFP that he felt “violent shaking” and “ran to the yard of the [factory] plant immediately. Our factory is only one floor. When I came to the yard, I saw an 18-storey building, the tallest in our county, shaking ferociously, especially the 18th floor,” he said. The area has been hit by 371 aftershocks, according to the Earthquake Administration of Gansu province. Tremors were felt in the provincial capital, Lanzhou, and as far away as Xian, 400km (250 miles) to the east.
At least 5,600 houses in the province’s Zhangxian County are seriously damaged and 380 have collapsed, while some areas suffered from power cuts or mobile communications being disrupted, the earthquake administration added. “Many have been injured by collapsed houses,” a doctor based in Minxian County was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying. “Many villagers have gone to local hospitals along the roads.” The earthquake has caused a direct economic loss of 198 million Yuan ($32m; £21m), the Dingxi government said on its micro-blog. The closer to the surface an earthquake strikes, the more damage it can cause, our correspondent adds. The earthquake reportedly triggered a series of mudslides and landslides, making it difficult for rescuers to access some areas hit by the quake. The Gansu military police have deployed 500 soldiers, including 120 specialist rescuers, while 500 emergency tents and 2,000 quilts are also being transported to affected areas, Xinhua added. Officials from the civil affairs, transportation and earthquake departments were also visiting local towns to assess the damage, a statement on the Dingxi party website said. –BBC