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Quake in China's Sichuan province kills 19, injures 247

Thursday, August 10, 2017
By K J M Varma

Beijing: At least 19 people were killed and nearly 250 others injured after a powerful 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck a mountainous region in China's southwest Sichuan province, with rescuers today evacuating over 45,000 tourists from the area, according to the official media.

The temblor that struck the popular tourist destination in Jiuzhaigou County last night was followed by another 6.6- magnitude quake today in the far northwestern region of Xinjiang province, more than 2,000-km away.

The massive earthquake in Sichuan struck at 9:19 PM (local time) last night and the epicentre was monitored at a depth of 20 km, state-run Xinhua new agency reported. Jiuzhaigou, or Jiuzhai Valley, is a national park famed for more than 140 lakes whose waters range from crystal-clear to turquoise, lying at the feet of forest-clad mountains.

The death toll in the quake in Sichuan has risen to 19, with 247 injured, including 40 seriously, authorities said.

The injured included a French man and a Canadian woman. The exact number of casualties of foreign nationals in the disaster was not immediately known.

Five among the dead were visitors to the Jiuzhaigou national park, China Earthquake Networks Centre (CENC) said.

Rescue workers are assisting stranded tourists at the popular tourist destination and more than 45,000 tourists have so far been evacuated, Xinhua reported.

Over 800 workers are combing villages in search of anyone still trapped, the provincial quake relief headquarters said.

Wang Zhibin, a police officer in Jiuzhaigou, said fallen rocks and landslides blocking roads had largely been cleared.

Rescue workers are trying to reach eight people trapped by debris after a building collapsed in Zhangzha township.

Tourist coaches and private vehicles have been pressed into service to help transport the stranded tourists. Power, communication and water supply in the area have been restored. The county also sent consultants to hotels, rural inns and streets to offer possible counselling service to tourists.

The quake was felt in the provincial capital Chengdu, about 300 kms south of the epicentre, and other regions in the neighbouring provinces of Gansu and Shaanxi, the report said. President Xi Jinping has called for all-out efforts to rapidly organise relief work and rescue the injured people.

Authorities should check the impact of the earthquake, evacuate and settle visitors and local people, and reduce death and injuries as much as possible, Xi said.

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, he added.

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