A strong earthquake jolted a mountainous area in southwest China’s Yunnan province on Sunday, killing at least 367 people, injuring nearly 2,000 and disrupting electricity and transportation facilities over a wide area.
State media reported that the strong quake hit at 4:30pm Sunday (Beijing Time) with a depth of 12 km and the epicenter in Longtoushan township, 23km southwest of the county seat of Ludian, Zhaotong City.
"At least 367 people have been killed and 1,881 people were injured," the official news agency Xinhua reported early Monday, citing rescuers.
The 6.1-magnitude quake, which triggered strong tremors, toppled buildings and trapped hundreds of residents inside their own homes on a weekly holiday. Many houses were damaged with cracks appearing on the walls; according to initial estimates at least 12,000 houses toppled and at least 30,000 were damaged.
According to state broadcaster, CCTV, it was one of the strongest earthquakes to hit the region in over a decade.
A rescue and relief operation was launched by local authorities and Beijing was coordinating in dispatching more workers and rescue equipment from adjoining areas to the quake-hit region.
Rescue operations could be hampered by aftershocks and the expected heavy rain in the coming days.
Residents spoke of feeling strong jolts and “sailing” while driving their cars.
“Ma Liya, a resident in the county seat, told Xinhua via telephone that the streets were like battlefield after bombardment". She added that the house of her neighbor, a new two-story building, was toppled,” a report by the official news agency Xinhua said.
"It's so terrible. The aftermath is much much worse than what happened after the quake two years ago. I have never felt so strong tremors before. What I can see are all ruins," she said.
According to Xinhua, Zhaotong City had dispatched more than 300 police and firefighters to the quake-hit areas. The province also sent 392 rescuers and 12 sniffer dogs. The civil affairs authorities are sending 2,000 tents, 3,000 folding beds, 3,000 quilts and 3,000 coats to the quake region.
Ludian, according to state media, has a population of 265,900 in its seven townships. It was the worst-hit area with 296 residents killed there while 60 died in Qiaojia county, according to Xinhua who cited local officials.
The region is in the earthquake belt.
“In September 2012, a 5.7-magnitude caused more than 80 deaths and injured more than 800 people. In 1974, a 7.1-magnitude earthquake in the same place caused over 1,400 deaths,” Xinhua reported.
(With AFP inputs)