About 400 Dead, 10,000 Injured in 7.1-magnitude Quake in Qinghai
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|A 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit northwest China's Qinghai Province early on Wednesday, the China Earthquake Networks Center said. [Xinhua]
President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have ordered local authorities to go all out to save the disaster-stricken people.
Vice Premier Hui Liangyu has rushed to the quake-hit region.
Many people are still buried under the debris of collapsed houses in the Gyegu Town near the epicenter in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu in southern Qinghai, said Huang Limin, deputy secretary-general of the prefecture government.
The strong quake and a string of aftershocks, with the biggest one being 6.3 magnitude, have toppled houses, temples, gas stations and electric poles, triggered landslides, damaged roads, cut power supplies and disrupted telecommunications. A reservoir was also cracked, where workers are trying to prevent the outflow of water.
Gyegu, also known as Jiegu, is the seat of the Yushu prefecture government. The town has a population of about 100,000, including permanent residents and migrant people.
About 700 soldiers are now struggling to clear away the rubble and rescue the buried people, a spokesman with the Qinghai Provincial Emergency Office said.
More than 5,000 additional rescuers, including soldiers and medical workers, have been dispatched to the quake-hit region, according to a news conference held by the Qinghai provincial government.
The China Earthquake Administration, the Red Cross Society of China, and authorities in the neighboring Gansu, Sichuan provinces and Tibet Autonomous Region, as well as Beijing, have also dispatched rescuers to Yushu.
Tents, cotton-padded clothes and quilts are being rushed to the region from various parts of the country.
"Our top priority is to save students. Schools are always places that have many people," said Kang Zifu, an army officer in the rescue operation in Gyegu.
The quake also killed five people and injured one in the Shiqu County, which neighbors Yushu, in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Garze in Sichuan Province, local authorities said.
Lying on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Yushu has an altitude of above 4,000 meters.
The Qinghai Provincial Observatory forecast Wednesday that Yushu would see strong winds and sleet in the coming days, which would hamper rescue efforts.