China earthquake death toll rises to 74

This photo taken on Sept. 5, 2022 shows rescue workers carrying an injured person after a 6.6-magnitude earthquake in Luding county, Ganzi, in China's southwestern Sichuan province. Photo by CNS/AFP 
This photo taken on Sept. 5, 2022 shows rescue workers carrying an injured person after a 6.6-magnitude earthquake in Luding county, Ganzi, in China’s southwestern Sichuan province. Photo by CNS/AFP 

BEIJING — The death toll from a strong earthquake that struck southwest China has risen to 74, state media reported Wednesday, as thousands were evacuated into temporary shelters and heavy rains threatened to cause more landslides.

The magnitude 6.6 quake hit about 43 kilometers southeast of the city of Kangding in Sichuan province at a depth of 10 kilometers on Monday, according to the US Geological Survey.

The state-run People’s Daily said that 34 people died in Sichuan’s Ya’an city, while 40 deaths were reported in neighboring Ganzi prefecture.

More than 21,000 people have been evacuated from areas prone to landslides or building collapse, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Rescuers are still scouring remote villages in the country’s mountainous southwest in a race to find survivors of the earthquake, with dozens of people believed stranded or missing.

“My head was stuck between the 2 columns, and my legs were sandwiched between the tables,” one woman who was trapped for nearly 5 hours under a collapsed hotel in the town of Moxi, one of the worst-affected areas, told state-run Red Star News.

“I could only lie in one position, resigned to my fate. I don’t know who saved me,” she added, saying she had worried for her children and whether their school building had collapsed.

“I could only think about whether the children were crying for their mother.”

Dramatic footage aired by state broadcaster CCTV showed kindergarten teachers waking up napping children and rushing them out when the quake hit.

The quake also rocked buildings in the provincial capital of Chengdu — where millions are confined to their homes under a strict Covid-19 lockdown — and in the nearby megacity of Chongqing, residents told AFP.

At least 13 aftershocks of magnitude 3.0 and above had been detected as of 7 a.m. local time on Tuesday, the China Earthquake Networks Center said.

The provincial grid operator yesterday said power had been restored to over 22,000 households and that 12 emergency shelters in Ya’an were connected to a temporary power supply after the quake knocked out electricity across swathes of countryside. 

Beijing’s cabinet on Monday said it had dispatched a special team to lead the efforts, with CCTV reporting more than 6,500 people had been sent as part of the emergency rescue response. 

But the China Meteorological Administration warned that quake-stricken areas would experience “significant rainfall” until Thursday and that landslides could hamper rescue work.

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