China quake deaths up to 82

Rescuers are looking for 270 missing people

BEIJING (AFP) — The death toll from a strong earthquake that struck southwest China rose to 82, state media reported Thursday, as rain and possible mudslides threatened the search for dozens of missing people.

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, forcing thousands to be resettled into temporary camps.

State broadcaster CCTV said that 46 people died in Ganzi prefecture near the epicenter, while 36 deaths were reported in neighboring Ya’an city.

More than 270 were injured, while the number of missing remained at 35, CCTV reported.

The national weather service said moderate rain will continue in the affected earthquake area on Thursday and Friday, with some localised heavy showers.

“Since the post-earthquake geological conditions are inherently fragile, and the impact of additional rainfall may lead to landslides and mudslides, the local area needs to beware of secondary disasters,” China’s meteorological administration said.

The People’s Liberation Army, paramilitary police, and fire rescue services dispatched more than 10,000 workers to the area, who continued search operations and landslide clean-up efforts in the remote countryside.

Workers raced to fix hundreds of kilometres of power and optical cables, with communications in affected areas “basically restored” as of Thursday, the China Youth Daily reported.

Local authorities have received over 100 million yuan ($14 million) in disaster relief donations so far, the report said.

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, residents told AFP.

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