World News

China natural disaster death toll rises to 23

China natural disaster death toll rises to 23

China on Wednesday evacuated almost 60,000 people in its mountainous southwest after a strong quake killed at least 19, rattling a region where memories of a 2008 seismic disaster remain fresh.

The U.S. Geological Survey said it was magnitude-6.5 and just 9 kilometers (5.5 miles) deep, while the China Earthquake Networks Center measured the earthquake at magnitude-7.0 and said it struck at a depth of 20 kilometers (12 miles).

National tourism authorities have issued their highest safety warning for Jiuzhaigou, telling tourists to stay away and travel agencies to cease organising trips amid recurring aftershocks and landslides.

Two foreigners, a French man and a Canadian woman, are among the injured.

A worker at Jiuzhaigou national Reserve Park, which is situated near the site of the natural disaster, told Xinhua due to collapse of some houses after the quake, the authorities are organising evacuations of residents.

Authorities have said thousands of response personnel were sent into the area, as rescue workers search for at least four people still missing. More than 1,000 aftershocks with 4.6 magnitudes on the Richter scale continued to hit the area on Wednesday night.

President Xi Jinping called for an all-out effort to quickly organize aid and rescue measures.

The local government said it had repaired 129 telecommunication towers or other installations that were damaged by the quake, restoring communications with much of the affected area.

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A stream of empty tour buses bearing the sign "Emergency Rescue Vehicle" made their way across the highway toward the disaster zone Wednesday afternoon. Shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage than deeper ones.

More than 30,000 tourists were in the park when the quake struck, heavily damaging at least one hotel.

Xinhua said strong tremors could be felt in Chengdu.

"We're responsible for finding if there are still people trapped over there".

The region struck by the recent quake was hit by one of the most deadly earthquakes of recent history in 2008, when a magnitude 8.0 natural disaster struck northwest of Chengdu, and killed almost 70,000 people and insured several hundred thousand.

Several people contacted by AFP reported seeing some structures collapse.

Aerial footage showed picturesque forested mountains scarred by giant landslides.

The Red Cross Society of China said it was sending emergency specialists and volunteers, while Save the Children was also mobilising teams.


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