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China earthquake: Rescue operations on in Sichuan

China has launched an extensive rescue operation in a remote area popular with tourists after a 6.5-magnitude earthquake killed 19 people and injured hundreds more.

world Updated: Aug 09, 2017 21:58 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
China earthquake,6.5-magnitude quake,Sichuan earthquake
Rescuers carry a woman injured during an earthquake in Jiuzhaigou in China's southwestern Sichuan province on August 9, 2017. China has evacuated tens of thousands of people in its mountainous southwest after the strong earthquake killed at least 19 people and rattled a region where memories of a 2008 seismic disaster remain fresh. (AFP)

Rescue operations were on in full swing in a remote area of China’s southwestern Sichuan on Wednesday after a 6.5-magnitude earthquake killed at least 19 people and injured more than 200.

A French man and a Canadian woman were among those injured by the temblor late on Tuesday, state media reported.

The quake was felt in the provincial capital of Chengdu, 300 km away, and authorities fear casualties could rise.

The epicentre of the quake was in Jiuzhaigou county, a remote area of the large province. The tremors triggered panic in the area, with residents rushing out of their homes because of fears that they could collapse.

“The earthquake jolted Jiuzhaigou county soon after 9 pm on Tuesday and the epicentre was monitored at 33.2 degrees north latitude and 103.82 degrees east longitude. The quake struck at a depth of 20 km,” the China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC) said.

“Jiuzhaigou, or Jiuzhai Valley, is a national park known for spectacular waterfalls and karst formations. More than 34,000 people visited the tourist attraction on Tuesday,” official Xinhua news agency reported.

Tourists wait to be evacuated after an earthquake in Jiuzhaigou in China's southwestern Sichuan province on August 9, 2017. (AFP)

Jiuzhaigou county has dispatched more than 90 emergency vehicles and 1,200 personnel to participate in rescue operations. Authorities also sent consultants to hotels and rural inns to offer counselling to tourists, the report said.

Official media also reported that the Western Theater Command of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) had activated an emergency response and was ready for rescue operations.

President Xi Jinping said in a statement: “Authorities should check the impact of the earthquake, evacuate and settle visitors and local people, and reduce death and injuries as much as possible.”

He added, “As the earthquake took place during the flood period and tourism season, authorities should enhance meteorological early warning and geological monitoring to guard against other disasters and try their best to protect people's lives and property.”

Rescuers transfer a survivor injured during an earthquake by a helicopter to Sichuan Provincial People's Hospital in Jiuzhaigou in China's southwestern Sichuan province on August 9, 2017. (AFP)

Sichuan has a history of deadly earthquakes. In May 2008, an 8.0-magnitude quake struck Wenchuan and killed more than 80,000 people. In 2013, a 7.0-magnitude quake hit Lushan, killing 196.

Meanwhile, another 6.6-magnitude quake jolted Jinghe county in Bortala Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture in northwest China's Xinjiang province on Wednesday morning. The CENC said the quake occurred at 7 am and three people were taken to a hospital for treatment.

First Published: Aug 09, 2017 15:51 IST