Rescue efforts continue as China earthquake kills more than 380
(CNN) — Search and rescue operations are underway in Yunnan province, southwestern China today following a 6.1-magnitude quake which struck Sunday afternoon.
At least 381 people have been killed, and 1,881 injured, state-run media has reported. Three people have been reported as missing.
The quake struck at 4.30 p.m. local time (4.30 a.m. Eastern). The majority of the casualties occurred in the city of Zhaotong, Ludian County.
The epicenter of the quake was recorded in Longtoushan Township, 23 km (14 miles) southwest of Zhaotong, and tremors were felt almost 200 miles away. Hundreds of aftershocks have been recorded following the initial tremor.
It is a fairly remote, partly mountainous area, where many live in low-rise houses made of wood and bricks or plaster, which make them prone to collapse. The affected area has around 400,000 residents, making it relatively sparsely populated by Chinese standards.
Some 12,000 homes were destroyed and 30,000 others were damaged in Sunday’s quake, according to CCTV. Tens of thousands have been relocated from structurally unsafe houses. Some roads have been destroyed and some villages remain cut off.
Ten towns and townships faced power outages overnight. Power was restored to around 19,000 homes Monday morning.
President Xi Jinping called for “all-out efforts” in relief operations late Sunday night, with top priority given to saving lives, minimizing casualties and providing adequate shelter for displaced victims of the disaster.
More than 2,500 troops, both active duty soldiers and reservists, have been dispatched to the area to join the disaster relief operation, state media said. They are joined by specially-trained functionaries, medical teams and thousands of volunteers. Civil authorities have distributed tents, folding beds, blankets and clothing.
Two commercial planes from carrier China Eastern have been used to fly rescue and medical teams close to the epicenter.
Premier Li Keqiang, who traveled to stricken areas Monday morning, echoed calls for a swift response, urging local authorities to focus attention on search and rescue and also on providing adequate supplies and medical attention for residents affected by the disaster.
He called on eight government ministries, including civil affairs, health, transport and housing, to send teams to take part in rescue and rehabilitation work.
Officials from Zhaotong urged people to give blood in order to make up a significant shortfall.
Video of the site from CCTV shows rescue workers digging with their hands under several feet of rubble that included dirt, rebar and concrete blocks.
Video shows injured adults and children being rushed to hospitals in ambulances.
Power and telephone outages were complicating assessment of the damage, rescuers said. Rain is expected in the next few days, which authorities fear could impact rescue efforts.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a magnitude of 6.1, while the China Earthquake Networks Center reported it as a 6.5-magnitude event.
The area is a mountainous region, known for its natural scenery and ethnic diversity, but is also prone to natural disasters and lies on a major earthquake fault.
Yunnan’s neighboring province, Sichuan, witnessed a magnitude 7.9 earthquake in 2008 where at least 87,000 people died.