Officials in China have confirmed that a strong earthquake in southwestern Sichuan province on Tuesday killed at least 13 people and injured dozens more. More were feared dead, however, after the 6.5 magnitude quake hit the remote, mountainous region.
There were tourists among the victims, authorities said, as the Jiuzhai Valley national park, a UNESCO world heritage site famous for its scenic lakes and waterfalls, lay inside the danger zone. About 100 more tourists remained trapped in one part of the park late on Tuesday as emergency response workers rushed to rescue them.
“There are fatalities. The numbers await confirmation,” a Sichuan government official told German news agency dpa.
Quake felt in Beijing
The tremor was so strong it could be felt 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) away in the capital, Beijing.
Chinese state TV announced that Jiuzhaigou Valley park would remain closed as part of the state of emergency declared in the area.
Authorities said the number of fatalities could not yet be confirmed
“The quake hit at night, communications lines and electricity are disrupted and people are no doubt shocked and scared,” said a spokesperson for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in China, which has dispatched relief workers to the area.
China’s National Commission for Disaster Reduction said later in a statement that it feared up to 100 could have been killed and hundreds of thousands of homes may be damaged as a result of the earthquake.
The quake was the second disaster to strike Sichuan in a single day. Earlier, a landslide triggered by heavy rains killed at least 24 people south of Chengdu.
Meanwhile, Chinese authorities and the US Geological Survey on Wednesday reported a second earthquake with a magnitude of at least 6.3 in the Xinjiang province near China’s border with Kazakhstan. There were no immediate reports of casualties in the sparsely populated area.
ls, es/cmk (AFP, dpa, Reuters)