China’s battered southwest was rocked again by a powerful earthquake that shook the mountainous Sichuan and Yunnan provinces on Saturday, killing 28 as almost two lakh homes were damaged or toppled.
The 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck on Saturday evening near the Sichuan-Yunnan border. Thousands fled to camp outdoors in the wake of 300 aftershocks up to 5 am on Sunday. The quake affected eight lakh residents, injured over 200 people and damaged 656 schools that were slated to open for a new semester on Monday.
For China, this year has posed a battle against natural disasters starting from January, when its worst snowstorms in half a century stranded millions. The Saturday earthquake struck just as Sichuan, famed for spicy red cuisine and giant pandas, was on the verge of a three-year and 147 billion dollar project to rebuild the flattened countryside.
Official media said that most of the fatalities were in areas on the southern tip of the fault line of the 8.0 magnitude earthquake — China’s worst earthquake in 30 years — that hit Sichuan on May 12. It killed almost 70,000 and left millions homeless. China has once again rushed rescuers, tents and relief materials to the region, where highways, reservoirs and bridges were also damaged.
The US Geological Survey said the Saturday earthquake was of a lower 5.7 magnitude. “Another 6.0 magnitude earthquake is not expected in the area in the next two weeks,” Liu Jie, the chief forecaster of Beijing’s Seismographic Information Centre said on Saturday. The same day, a 5.3 magnitude quake also hit China’s northwest Xinjiang region.
Last week, an 8.0 magnitude earthquake jolted parts of the remote Himalayan region of Tibet, damaging hundreds of structures.