Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

China rocked by twin earthquakes

A woman guides children away from damaged buildings after an earthquake hit Luozehe town in Yiliang, China (AP)

Rescue workers have cleared roads so they could search for survivors and rush aid to a remote mountainous area of south-western China after twin earthquakes killed at least 80 people.

More than 200,000 villagers were evacuated after Friday's quakes toppled thousands of homes and sent boulders cascading across roads in a region of small farms and mines near the border between Guizhou and Yunnan provinces, where some of China's poorest people live.

The official Xinhua News Agency quoted local officials as saying the death toll could climb further because the quakes seriously damaged roads and communications, making it difficult to collect information.

The damage also slowed rescue efforts.

"Roads are blocked and rescuers have to climb mountains to reach hard-hit villages," Xinhua quoted Li Fuchun, head of Luozehe township in hardest-hit Yiliang County, as saying.

State television said workers had succeeded in clearing a road into the worst-hit area that had been blocked by fallen boulders, allowing rescuers and assistance in.

Rescue work was also likely to be hampered by rain forecast over the next three days. There was, however, some uplifting news: State television reported that four babies had been born in temporary hospitals set up after the quakes.

The first magnitude-5.6 quake struck just before 11:30am local time on Friday and was followed by an equally strong quake shortly after noon, joined by dozens of aftershocks. Though of moderate strength, the quakes were shallow, which often causes more damage than deeper ones.

Zhang Junwei, a spokesman for the Yunnan Seismological Bureau, said that 80 people had died and 821 others had been injured.

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