Quakes kill 75 in northwest China

Injure 600 people,destroy thousands of houses in the poor,mountainous region

Written by New York Times | Hong Kong | Published: July 23, 2013 2:20 am

KEITH BRADSHER

A series of earthquakes in Gansu in northwestern China set off landslides and thousands of building collapses in an impoverished mountainous region Monday,killing at least 75 people,injuring more than 600 and prompting President Xi Jinping to order “all-out rescue efforts.”

The Gansu Provincial Seismological Bureau estimated the magnitude of the main earthquake at 6.6. The United States Geological Survey listed three fairly strong earthquakes in Gansu Province on Monday morning but none quite that powerful,with preliminary magnitudes of 5.9,5.6 and 4.7.

The quakes hit along the border between Minxian and Zhangxian counties,both in the south of Gansu Province. Most of the deaths and injuries occurred in Minxian,and all of the missing were there.

At the Lee Yuan Hotel in Minxian County,a woman who identified herself as Zhao said she had been terrified when the building shook and the ceiling lights swayed. She reached her mother by phone in their home village later in the morning,and was relieved to learn that she had survived unscathed.

“She and all our neighbors ran out of their homes right away when they felt the first quake hit – a lot of the village homes were destroyed by the earthquakes,” Zhao said.

Stung by criticism that they responded too slowly in 2008 to a massive earthquake in adjacent Sichuan Province and to several nearby earthquakes after that,Chinese officials and made a point of rushing to Gansu Province.

The seismological bureau said in late afternoon that both the province’s top officials — the Communist Party chief,Wang Yun,and Gov. Liu Weiping – had arrived in the disaster area,as had 1,800 police officers and local Communist Party cadres.

The earthquake-hit area is 230 km south of Lanzhou,the provincial capital and headquarters of an important Chinese military command. That command had sent 1,078 troops from engineering,infantry,medical and chemical units by afternoon,the provincial seismological bureau said in a statement. NYT

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