19 Dec 2023

China Earthquake Today: At least 116 die, rescue operations in full swing

A magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck northwest China's Gansu and Qinghai provinces, resulting in a reported death toll of at least 116, according to state media. The Global Times specified that 105 fatalities occurred in Gansu, with an additional 11 in neighboring Qinghai. The earthquake, which occurred late on Monday night, prompted ongoing search and rescue operations in both provinces.

CCTV camera footage reveals the moment when buildings shook

The Global Times shared CCTV camera footage revealing the unsettling moment when buildings shook and some ultimately collapsed. In the video, people can be seen hurriedly evacuating what seemed to be their offices and shops.

People seek safety in the streets

The earthquake wreaked havoc on homes, causing them to collapse and inflicting significant damage. This led to a frantic exodus of people seeking safety in the streets, as reported by the state news agency Xinhua.

"Look at how my hands and legs are shaking"

A woman, approximately 30 years old, expressed her extreme fear in a video shared on a social media account linked to the state-run People's Daily newspaper. 

She described her terror, stating, "I was almost scared to death. Look at how my hands and legs are shaking." The woman recounted her escape from her house, noting the unsettling moment when the earth on the mountain gave way, creating a thudding sound on the roof. She sat outside wrapped in a blanket, cradling a baby.

CCTV footage captured the aftermath of the quake, revealing family possessions scattered amidst the debris of a collapsed house.

As of early Tuesday, rescue efforts were in progress, and Chinese President Xi Jinping urged "all-out efforts" in the search and relief operations.

Heavy damage to houses, roads, and infra

Media reports indicated that more than 230 people were injured, and significant damage was inflicted on houses, roads, and infrastructure, disrupting power and communication lines. As of 7:50 am, local authorities in Gansu reported 105 deaths and over 4,700 damaged houses. By 9:30 am, the number of injuries had risen to 397, as announced in a news conference.

Chinese President Xi Jinping issued directives emphasizing comprehensive search and rescue efforts, the proper resettlement of affected individuals, and maximum efforts to safeguard lives and property.

Rescue operations initiated

The earthquake caused widespread destruction, with collapsed houses prompting people to seek safety in the streets. Rescue operations were initiated early on Tuesday. The US Geological Survey recorded the earthquake as magnitude 5.9, while Xinhua reported it as magnitude 6.2. It struck near the Gansu-Qinghai border, affecting areas like Haidong in Qinghai.

The impact included disruptions to power and water supplies in local villages, as well as visible damage such as fallen ceilings and debris, documented in social media videos. The earthquake occurred at a depth of 10 kilometers at 11:59 pm local time on Monday, with subsequent aftershocks.

Several smaller aftershocks followed

Emergency responses were swiftly implemented, with rescue personnel dispatched immediately after the quake. Provincial leaders were en route to the affected areas, as reported by Xinhua. According to the USGS, the earthquake's epicenter was approximately 100 kilometers southwest of Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province, and several smaller aftershocks followed.

While earthquakes are not uncommon in China, the region experienced a similar event in August, where a shallow 5.4-magnitude earthquake struck eastern China, causing injuries and the collapse of numerous buildings.

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