Deadly earthquake in China’s Gansu province leaves hundreds injured and homeless

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A powerful earthquake of magnitude 6.2 hit China’s northwestern Gansu province on Monday night, killing at least 131 people and injuring more than 700 others. The quake was the deadliest in China since 2014, when a similar tremor killed 617 people in Yunnan province.

Rescue efforts hampered by cold weather and landslides

The earthquake struck at 9:12 p.m. local time (1312 GMT) near the county of Jishishan, about 300 km (186 miles) from the provincial capital of Lanzhou. The epicenter was at a depth of 10 km (6 miles), according to the China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC).

The quake caused widespread damage to buildings, roads, and power lines in the affected area, which is home to about 270,000 people, mostly ethnic Hui and Mongolian Muslims. Many people were trapped under the rubble of collapsed houses and mosques, while others fled to open spaces or nearby towns.

The rescue efforts were hampered by the cold weather, which dropped to minus 10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit) at night, and the frequent aftershocks, which triggered landslides and blocked roads. More than 10,000 soldiers, police, firefighters, and volunteers were mobilized to search for survivors and provide relief supplies.

The central government allocated 100 million yuan ($14 million) for the disaster relief work, while the provincial and local authorities also allocated funds and materials. President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang expressed their condolences to the victims and urged all-out efforts to save lives and minimize losses.

Quake survivors face hardship and uncertainty

The quake survivors faced hardship and uncertainty as they struggled to cope with the aftermath of the disaster. Many of them lost their loved ones, their homes, and their livelihoods. Some of them had to sleep in tents, cars, or makeshift shelters, while others had to endure the cold and hunger.

Deadly earthquake in China’s Gansu

“I don’t know where to go. My house is gone, my family is gone, my cattle are gone. I have nothing left,” said Ma Guixiang, a 60-year-old woman who lost her husband and two sons in the quake.

Some of the survivors also suffered from psychological trauma and fear of another quake. “I can’t sleep at night. I keep hearing the sound of the earthquake and the screams of the people. I don’t know if I will survive the next one,” said Li Xiaoyan, a 28-year-old mother of two.

The local authorities and social workers tried to provide psychological counseling and comfort to the quake victims, while also distributing food, water, blankets, clothes, and medicine. They also set up temporary shelters, schools, and clinics to meet the basic needs of the affected people.

Quake raises questions about building safety and disaster preparedness

The quake also raised questions about the safety of the buildings and the preparedness for natural disasters in the region, which is prone to seismic activity. According to the CENC, the quake was caused by the movement of the Haiyuan fault, which runs through Gansu, Ningxia, and Qinghai provinces.

The fault was the source of the 1920 Haiyuan earthquake, which killed more than 200,000 people and was one of the deadliest in history. The fault is also close to the Lanzhou-Xinjiang high-speed railway, which was damaged by the quake and had to suspend its service.

Some experts and media outlets criticized the quality of the construction and the enforcement of the building codes in the rural areas, where many of the houses were made of mud bricks and wood. They also pointed out the lack of earthquake awareness and education among the residents and the officials.

“The quake exposed the vulnerability of the rural buildings and the lack of disaster prevention and mitigation measures. We need to learn from this tragedy and improve the infrastructure and the emergency response system in the region,” said Zhang Xiaodong, a seismologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

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