At least 118 dead and 500 injured in China earthquake

Rescuers in northwestern China are combing through rubble looking for signs of life.

Authorities are braving freezing conditions in the hope there could be survivors trapped under the rubble

An overnight earthquake killed at least 118 people in a cold and mountainous region in northwestern China, the country’s state media has reported.

Search and rescue operations are underway in Gansu and neighbouring Qinghai provinces.

The earthquake left more than 500 people injured, severely damaged houses and roads, and knocked out power and communication lines, according to media reports.

The magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck near the boundary between the two provinces at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometers (six miles) just before midnight on Monday, the China Earthquake Networks Center said.

The US Geological Survey measured the magnitude at 5.9.

Emergency workers attempt to look for survivors. / Credit: AP

By mid-morning, 105 people had been confirmed dead in Gansu and another 397 injured, including 16 in critical condition, Han Shujun, a spokesperson for the provincial emergency management department, said at a news conference.

Thirteen others were killed and 182 injured in Qinghai in an area north of the epicenter, according to state media.

Another 20 were missing in Qinghai after being buried in a landslide, the China News Service said.

Photos and videos posted by a student at Lanzhou University showed students hastily leaving a dormitory building and standing outside with long down jackets over their pyjamas.

“The earthquake was too intense,” said Wang Xi, the student who posted the images.

“My legs went weak, especially when we ran downstairs from the dormitory.”

In an aerial photo released by Xinhua News Agency, rescuers search a collapsed building. / Credit: AP

The remote and mountainous area is home to several predominantly Muslim ethnic groups and near some Tibetan communities.

Geographically, it is in the center of China, though the area is commonly referred to as the northwest, as it is at the northwestern edge of China’s more populated plains.

Tents, folding beds and quilts were being sent to the disaster area, state broadcaster CCTV said.

It quoted Chinese leader Xi Jinping as calling for an all-out search and rescue effort to minimize the casualties.

At least 4,000 firefighters, soldiers and police officers were dispatched in the rescue effort, and the People’s Liberation Army Western Theatre set up a command post to direct its work.

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