Three killed, dozens hurt in China quake

BEIJING (AFP) – Three people were killed and dozens injured when a earthquake struck southwestern China yesterday, triggering the second-highest level of emergency response by rescuers in Sichuan province.

The quake struck Luxian county before dawn yesterday around 120 kilometres southwest of the sprawling megacity of Chongqing, which along with its surrounding area is home to around 30 million people.

Rescue workers rushed to lift people from beneath rubble, moving them out of damaged buildings on stretchers, footage from the Sichuan Fire Brigade showed.

Dozens of houses in Luxian were reduced to rubble and many others were damaged. Local media published images of collapsed ceilings in a hospital as residents milled around in the streets after warnings not to return indoors.

The United States (US) Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 5.4 but the China Earthquake Networks Centre measured it at magnitude 6.0.

Rescuers clean up debris after a 5.4-magnitude earthquake in Luzhou, in China’s southwestern Sichuan province. PHOTO: AFP

Both put it at a shallow depth of 10 kilometres.

Luxian authorities said the seismic event left “three dead, three seriously injured and 57 slightly injured”.

At least 10,000 people have been moved into emergency shelters, the local government said.

Live footage from Luxian by state broadcaster CCTV showed workers climbing up ladders in pouring rain to remove hazardous debris hanging off buildings, including half-broken panes of glass.

Students had evacuated their dormitories in the dark earlier yesterday, clutching umbrellas and wearing backpacks, in another video from the Sichuan Daily.

Authorities downplayed the immediate threat of a larger aftershock.

“It is unlikely there will be a larger earthquake in the area in the near future, but aftershocks will continue for some time,” Du Bin, deputy chief of the Sichuan Earthquake Administration, told reporters.

State-run CGTN shared security camera footage showing TVs and refrigerators shaking on the walls of houses as the quake struck, as ornaments smashed onto floors and cracks ran through buildings.