Quake toll hits 38 dead, 500 injured in south-west China

Other News Materials 1 September 2008 16:40 (UTC +04:00)

The casualty toll rose to at least 38 dead and more than 500 injured after an earthquake on the borders of China's south-western provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan, the government said Monday, reported dpa.

Most of the casualties were in Sichuan's worst-hit county of Huili, where 27 people were reported dead, 321 injured and more than 45,000 temporarily homeless after Saturday's 6.1-magnitude quake, the official Xinhua news agency quoted local authorities as saying.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs said on its website that 152,000 people were evacuated by Sunday night after the quake destroyed some 258,000 houses in the two provinces.

The agency said authorities distributed about 10,000 tents in Huili and two other badly affected areas.

Five more people were reported killed in Sichuan's Panzhihua city and at least six died in Yunnan province, it said.

The quake affected some 800,000 people and was felt in both provincial capitals, prompting many people to remain outdoors on Saturday evening for fear of aftershocks.

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

Schools in Panzhihua and other affected areas remained closed for safety checks on Monday, as officials postponed the start of a new school new term for one week.

Damage was also reported to three major bridges in Panzhihua and three reservoirs in the nearby Langshan district, the ministry said.

Relief and rescue efforts were hampered by rain and a 5.6-magnitude aftershock on Sunday.

The State Seismological Bureau said it had recorded 439 aftershocks since the first quake on Saturday afternoon.

Sichuan was hit by a devastating earthquake that killed at least 70,000 people on May 12, with nearly 20,000 people still listed as missing.

Thousands of aftershocks have shaken Sichuan since the 8.0-magnitude quake in May along the Longshan geological fault.

The quakes on Saturday and Sunday were at the southern end of the Longshan fault.