China quake toll rises to 33, over 500 injured

September 1st, 2008 - 12:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Panzhihua (China), Sep 1 (Xinhua) The death toll in the 6.1-magnitude quake that struck China’s southwestern provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan Saturday has risen to 33, the civil affairs ministry said Monday.Most of the casualties were in Sichuans’s worst-hit county of Huili, where 22 out of the 27 deaths in the province were reported. Another five deaths occurred in Yunnan province, the ministry said, adding that more than 500 people were also injured in the disaster.

The quake stuck with its epicentre at the juncture of Renhe district in Panzhihua and Huili County in Sichuan province at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, refreshing the horrible memories of the devastating 8.0-magnitude quake that had hit the same province May 12.

The killer quake had claimed the lives of more than 70,000 people in the province and adjacent regions and rendered millions homeless.

According to the ministry, Saturday’s quake affected some 800,000 people and was felt in both provincial capitals, prompting many people to remain outdoors Saturday evening for fear of aftershocks.

Electricity, roads and communications were cut off by earthquake damage in several rural areas of Yunnan and Sichuan.

Relief and rescue efforts were hampered by rain and another 5.6-magnitude aftershock Sunday afternoon, officials said.

Local authorities distributed some 10,000 tents in three badly affected areas, where some 180,000 buildings collapsed and at least 40,000 people were evacuated.

More than 300 aftershocks were also monitored in the quake zone as of 5 a.m. Sunday, according to the national earthquake networks.

Panzhihua city Quake Control and Relief Headquarters Sunday confirmed more than 70,000 people in the city were affected by the quake. In addition, more than 32,000 people were displaced.

Meanwhile, the Panzhihua education authority said cracks were found on the buildings of more than 100 schools, of which 66 were in Renhe, a hard-hit district in the city.

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

“The figure (of schools affected by the quake) might go up, as damages in some primary schools based in remote mountainous villages were not reported yet due to inconvenient transport conditions,” Shen said.

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