• en

Deadly Earthquake Strikes Northwest China: 126 Killed, Over 700 Injured

Survivors described the tremors as feeling like “being tossed by surging waves,” prompting many to evacuate their homes.

At least 126 people have lost their lives and over 700 are reported injured in northwest China following the country’s deadliest earthquake in 13 years. The earthquake, measuring 6.2 in magnitude, struck mountainous Gansu province at midnight on Monday, affecting the neighbouring Qinghai region as well.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has deployed thousands of rescue personnel to the affected area, one of the poorest and most diverse regions in China. The quake caused widespread destruction, splitting entire villages, collapsing buildings, and leaving residents in icy conditions as temperatures dropped to -13°C (8.7°F) on Tuesday.

Survivors described the tremors as feeling like “being tossed by surging waves,” prompting many to evacuate their homes. State TV and social media shared footage of damaged buildings, collapsed houses, and residents huddled around makeshift fires at evacuation camps.

Jishishan county in Gansu province was the worst-hit area, with local officials reporting damage to more than 5,000 buildings. Media reports quoted a director of the Gansu rescue team attributing the extensive damage to poor building quality, noting that many homes were old and made of clay.

Gansu, situated between the Tibetan and Loess plateaus and bordering Mongolia, is one of China’s poorest and most ethnically diverse regions. The quake’s epicentre was in Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, home to various Chinese Muslim groups, including the Hui, Bonan, Dongxiang, and Salar people.

Chinese authorities reported a magnitude of 6.2 on the Richter scale, while the US Geological Survey (USGS) recorded a magnitude of 5.9 with a depth of 10km (6 miles). Multiple aftershocks have occurred, adding to the challenges faced by rescue efforts.

Across the region, power and water supplies have been disrupted, hampering rescue operations. With limited time left to rescue people in sub-zero conditions, officials express concerns that casualties could rise further.

Wang Yi, chief commander of the Blue Sky Rescue Team, China’s largest non-governmental humanitarian organisation, anticipates an increase in casualties. “We now need to dig deeper [into the rubble], but there are no big buildings in the area. So it will rise, but it won’t be much,” he said.

President Xi Jinping emphasised that “all efforts should be made to carry out search and rescue, treat the injured in a timely manner, and minimise casualties.” China, located in a seismically active region, has experienced devastating earthquakes in the past, including the 2010 quake in Yushu, Qinghai province, which claimed almost 2,700 lives.

Kiki Garba

Follow us on: