A magnitude 7.1 quake hits Yushu county in the north-west province of Qinghai, flattening buildings and sparking a huge rescue operation...
A powerful earthquake has killed at least 400 people and injured more than 10,000 in a remote part of western China this morning.
A series of tremors and 18 aftershocks brought down brick and wooden houses in Yushu, Qinghai province, on the rugged Tibetan Plateau. Some schools and part of a government building caved in, leaving people trapped inside.
Paramilitary police were forced to use shovels to dig through the rubble in a township where most of the homes had been flattened, footage on state television showed. Officials said excavators were not available and with most of the roads leading to the nearest airport damaged.
Red Cross workers are preparing supplies of tents and warm clothing to send to the remote high altitude region amid fears that thousands have been left without shelter in near-freezing temperatures.
An official said: ‘The injured are everywhere in the street, a lot of people are bleeding from head wounds.’ He added that than 85 percent of houses had collapsed in the town of Jiegu, located near the quake’s epicentre.
‘This earthquake took place in a very remote and rugged region of China to the northwest,’ said Sky’s China correspondent Peter Sharp. ‘Logistically it is going to be a nightmare for the emergency services but the good news is that there are tens of thousands of troops already in involved in the rescue operation.’
The magnitude 7.1 quake was centred in the mountains that divide Qinghai province from the Tibet Autonomous Region. The foothills to the south and east of the region are home to herders and Tibetan monasteries of Yushu county, known for its horse festival.
Movement of the Indian subcontinent toward the Himalayas has triggered an increasing number of quakes in the foothills. About 80,000 people were killed in May 2008 after a magnitude-8 quake hit Sichuan province.
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