A 6.1 magnitude earthquake has struck China’s Yunnan Province near the Qiaojia County of Zhaotang prefecture. Reports so far suggest that at least 390 have been killed and hundreds are missing due to the devastation, though rescuers are still searching for trapped survivors. The rescue efforts have been complicated by recent mudslides in the area which have made some roads impassable, NPR reports. Additionally, over 1,400 have been injured, 12,000 homes have collapsed and at least 30,000 have sustained damaged. A resident described the scene as a “battlefield after bombardment”. While the USGS is reporting the earthquake to be of magnitude 6.1, the China Earthquake Networks Centre is rating the quake at 6.5
The United States Geological Survey has previously expressed concerns about the infrastructure in the area, saying: “Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are highly vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though some resistant structures exist. The predominant vulnerable building types are unreinforced brick masonry and ductile reinforced concrete frame construction.”
This video from CCTV shows the scene on the streets at the moment the earthquake hit.
Survivors survey the rubble. Picture courtesy of Xinhua News.
Per the US Geological Survey, the earthquake struck 27.245°N 103.427°E at a relatively shallow depth of 10.0km at 2014-08-03 08:30:13 UTC, or 4:30pm Beijing Time.
This area is 300 miles south of Chengdu, where powerful earthquakes struck in 2008 and 2013. In 2003 a 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck Yunnan killing 16, injuring 584, collapsing 24,000 houses and damaging 1,186,000 homes.
Per reports, the Chinese Civil Affairs Authorities are sending 2,000 tents, 3,000 folding beds, 3,000 quilts and 3,000 coats to the region, and the Yunnan Provincial Earthquake Commission has sent a 30 member team to evaluate the scene.
PBS recently released the documentary Fallen City, describing how residents of Beichuan in China’s Sichuan Province rebuilt after a devastating quake completely destroyed their city in 2008, killing nearly 70,000. The entire documentary can be viewed online until Aug 28, 2014, and trailer can be viewed below.
Category 6.1 earthquakes are defined as strong quakes which may cause a lot of damage in densely populated areas. About 100 such earthquakes strike annually.
For more information on Earthquake Preparedness, check out these informational sites from Ready.Gov, The American Red Cross, FEMA, and the CDC. Additionally, FEMA has published this interesting PDF detailing how to build earthquake-ready hospitals.
Report written by Vidya Eswaran