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China quakes kill at least 80
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Sept 8, 2012

China earthquake timeline
Beijing (AFP) Sept 7, 2012 - Two earthquakes struck the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan on Friday, killing at least 50 people. Here is a list of other deadly quakes in the country:

-- June 24, 2012: An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.5 hits a mountainous area on the border of China's Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, killing at least four people and injuring more than 100.

-- March 10, 2011: A quake with a 5.4 magnitude strikes a remote area of southwest China bordering with Myanmar, killing 25 and injuring 250.

-- April 14, 2010: A quake with a magnitude of 6.9 kills about 2,700 people and injures another 12,000 in the northwestern province of Qinghai.

-- August 30, 2008. Forty people die after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake strikes Panzhihua city, Sichuan province.

-- May 12, 2008: A 8.0-magnitude quake strikes the southwestern province of Sichuan, leaving nearly 87,000 dead or missing. Another 4.45 million are injured in the worst quake disaster to hit China in more than three decades.

-- July 23, 2006: 22 people are killed and 106 injured as an earthquake measuring 5.1 hits the southwestern province of Yunnan. More than 6,000 homes are destroyed and 38,000 buildings damaged across 13 municipalities.

-- February 24, 2003: A violent earthquake measuring 6.8 takes 268 lives in the far-western region of Xinjiang and causes significant damage.

-- January 10, 1998: Forty-seven people are killed and 9,000 injured in a quake measuring 6.2 that in the northern province of Hebei.

-- February 3, 1996: A quake measuring 7.0 near the city of Lijiang in Yunnan kills 228 people and seriously injures 3,700.

-- October 24, 1995: An earthquake measuring 6.5 kills 52 in Yunnan.

-- April 26, 1990: A 6.9-magnitude earthquake in Qinghai kills 126.

-- August 23, 1985: An earthquake measuring 7.4 in Xinjiang kills 67.

-- July 28, 1976: The industrial city of Tangshan, 200 kilometres (125 miles) east of Beijing, is levelled by an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale (8.2 according to sources outside China). Beijing puts the official death toll at 242,000, with 164,000 seriously injured, although Western sources say the toll could be much higher.

-- February 4, 1975: A quake measuring 7.3 in the northeastern province of Liaoning claims 1,300 lives.

-- May 11, 1974: Ten thousand die in Sichuan and Yunnan after an earthquake of 7.1 magnitude.

-- January 5, 1970: An earthquake measuring 7.8 in Yunnan leaves 15,621 dead.

-- December 26, 1932: An 7.6-magnitude earthquake kills 70,000 people in the northwestern province of Gansu.

-- May 23, 1927: Forty-one thousand people die in Gansu in an earthquake measuring 8.0.

-- December 16, 1920: An earthquake measuring 8.5 in Gansu kills 230,000 people.

At least 80 people were killed in earthquakes that hit southwest China, state media said Saturday, as crippled infrastructure in the remote area complicated efforts to assess the scale of the disaster.

The Xinhua news agency quoted a spokesman with the provincial civil affairs department as warning the toll could climb further because impassable roads and downed communications were making it difficult to collect information.

An earlier report from Friday's quakes had said 67 people were killed and 731 injured when the tremors struck on the border of Yunnan and Guizhou provinces, toppling houses and sending panicked crowds onto the streets.

Xinhua did not give an updated figure for the number of people injured when the twin 5.6-magnitude quakes, which were followed by a series of aftershocks, struck the poorly developed region.

Southwest China is prone to earthquakes. In May 2008, an 8.0-magnitude tremor rocked Sichuan and parts of neighbouring Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, killing tens of thousands and flattening swathes of the province.

The Global Times newspaper said the latest tremor highlighted China's continued vulnerability to natural disasters, despite decades of rapidly improving wealth and living standards in much of the country.

"A quake as strong as Friday's... could have caused fewer or even no casualties in a more developed region," it said.

"People who have illusions about China's national strength have to wake up to the fact that many people still live in houses with similar conditions," added the editorial.

Residents described how people ran out of buildings screaming as the two shallow quakes hit an hour apart around the middle of the day.

Television footage showed roads strewn with fallen bricks and rocks in Yunnan province's Yiliang county, which appeared to be worst hit.

Authorities were sending thousands of tents, quilts and coats, and Premier Wen Jiabao was also heading to the area, Xinhua said.

Footage on state television network CCTV showed hundreds of people crowded into a sports field in Yiliang.

People took cover outside after the first quake and did not return indoors, said a man surnamed Xia reached by phone. "Lots of people are outside because they fear aftershocks," he said.

"I was walking on the street when I suddenly felt the ground shaking beneath me," posted one witness on Sina Weibo, a microblog similar to Twitter. "People started rushing outside screaming, it still scares me to think of it now."

The US Geological Survey said the first quake struck at 11.20 am (0320 GMT) at a depth of around 10 kilometres (six miles), with the second quake around an hour later.

The earthquakes cut off electricity and triggered landslides, blocking roads, Xinhua said.

Li Fuchun, the head Luozehe township, identified as the epicentre, told Xinhua: "Roads are blocked and rescuers have to climb mountains to reach hard-hit villagers."

Peng Zhuwen, a worker at a zinc mine in Luozehe, added: "It is scary. My brother was killed by falling rocks. The aftershocks have struck again and again. We are so scared."

Yunnan's civil affairs department said that 6,650 houses had been destroyed and 100,000 people evacuated. There were also fears of disease after thousands of cattle were killed when sheds caved in.

Rocks as big as four metres (13 feet) across crashed into mountain roads, crushing houses and cars, Xinhua said.

Corner cutting in construction projects leading to shoddy buildings, especially schools, was blamed for the death toll being as high as it was in the 2008 Sichuan quake.

The Global Times said that after the latest quake, authorities should emphasise safety and sustainability in future developments.

"Many would prefer bigger, rather than safer but more expensive, houses or apartments.

"To take the time and invest money in the prevention of natural disasters, which are unpredictable and are unlikely to occur, does not seem like a persuasive proposal to many in China," it concluded.


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