China quake toll rises to 28 (Second Lead)

August 31st, 2008 - 9:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Panzhihua (China), Aug 31 (Xinhua) The toll in Saturday’s 6.1-magnitude earthquake in China’s southwestern Sichuan province has risen to 28 after three more deaths were reported in the Huili county Sunday, officials said.Most of the fatalities were reported from the Huili county, while around 238 people were injured in the quake, relief officials said.

The quake occurred at 4.30 p.m. Saturday, with its epicentre at Panzhihua city in Sichuan province, officials said. The quake also jolted the neighbouring Yunnan province.

The quake-affected areas are Panzhihua, Huili, Yi and Bai regions, Lijiang and Zhaotong cities, as well as the Yunnan provincial capital of Kunming.

The Beijing-based Seismographic Information Centre said more than 300 aftershocks were registered after the quake in Sichuan Saturday.

The exact extent of the damages is not known yet.

Officials Sunday confirmed that around 70,000 people in Panzhihua city have been affected in the quake. Around 30,000 people have been displaced.

Authorities said that cracks were found in more than 100 school buildings in the region and the number could go up, as investigations are ongoing.

“I am afraid these schools would not open for the new semester starting Monday,” said Shen Zhiqiang, an official with the Panzhihua city bureau of education.

The total economic loss in the quake would be about 500 million yuan (about $73 million), quake control officials said.

Meanwhile, the government has declared a state of emergency in the region, even as rescue and relief operations continued.

Relief materials such as water, food and tents are being distributed. Emergency financial aid of five million yuan has been released for the quake-affected areas.

Officials said heavy showers since late Saturday has hampered the relief work. The Sichuan provincial weather observatory said more showers are likely in the coming week.

Around 1,200 tents and 10 tonnes of food and water were being sent to the quake hit areas in Huili, the deputy chief of the government in Huili, said.

The road traffic in the Sichuan provincial capital of Chengdu that was disrupted after the quake Saturday has been resumed.

Three freight trains had to be cancelled after some sections of the 1,100 km railway line that passes through the region was damaged in the quake, a railway official said.

“The resumption of this railway service would guarantee the delivery of relief materials to the quake hit zones around the Panzhihua city,” the official said.

Earlier on May 12, an earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale had devastated the Sichuan province, killing and wounding thousands in the aftermath.

Officials said some 70,000 people have died in the quake, while more than a million had been uprooted from their homes.

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