Killer quake claims 65 lives, all-out rescue on

Rain threatens to make rescue challenging

BEIJING (AFP) — Rescuers scoured through rubble for hundreds of missing people in parts of southwestern China on Tuesday after an earthquake killed more than 60, as local weather services warned rain was set to inundate the area.

The magnitude 6.6 quake hit about 43 kilometers southeast of the city of Kangding in Sichuan province at a depth of 10 kilometers on Monday, according to the United States Geological Survey.

At least 65 people were killed, state media reported Tuesday morning, with more than 200 still trapped in a remote scenic area and scores missing elsewhere.

Video from state broadcaster CCTV showed firefighters pulling a bruised and bloodied woman from the rubble and carrying a survivor on a stretcher across a river on a makeshift bridge as well as damaged buildings and streets strewn with fallen masonry.

And footage shared by the China Earthquake Networks Center showed boulders thundering down mountainsides in Luding county, kicking up clouds of dust as the tremors swayed roadside telephone wires.

At least one town suffered “severe damage” from landslides triggered by the quake, CCTV reported.

“Before 5 o’clock, I heard a rumbling sound. The house shook so badly that I woke up immediately,” one woman surnamed Zheng from Sichuan’s Lu county told Beijing News.

“My brother’s house collapsed. His house is an old one built more than 10 years ago. My house is newly built, so the situation is better.”

6,500 rescuers

The quake also rocked buildings in the provincial capital of Chengdu — where millions are confined to their homes under a strict Covid-19 lockdown — and in the nearby megacity of Chongqing, local residents told AFP.

At least 10 aftershocks of magnitude 3.0 and above had been detected as of 7 a.m. local time, CCTV said.

The local meteorological department has said Luding county — the epicenter of the quake — will experience rain for three days, potentially hampering rescue work.

China’s cabinet last night said it has dispatched a special team to lead the efforts, with CCTV reporting more than 6,500 people had been sent to emergency rescue.

And President Xi Jinping called for local authorities to “make saving lives the first priority, go all-out to rescue people in disaster-stricken areas and minimize loss of life,” according to CCTV.

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