Search operation continues as death toll rises to 13 in China earthquake

Source: Xinhua| 2019-06-18 19:44:21|Editor: zh
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CHENGDU, June 18 (Xinhua) -- Thirteen people died and nearly 200 were injured as of 4 p.m. Tuesday after a 6.0-magnitude earthquake hit southwest China's Sichuan Province Monday night, local authorities said at a press conference.

The earthquake hit Changning County of Yibin at 10:55 p.m. Monday (Beijing Time). The epicenter, with a depth of 16 km, was monitored at 28.34 degrees north latitude and 104.90 degrees east longitude, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center.

Rescuers said nine people died in Changning and four more in neighboring Gongxian County. Most of the deaths were caused by damaged houses, according to the press conference held by the city government of Yibin.

As of Tuesday afternoon, nearly 200 people were injured. The quake affected more than 142,000 people and 8,447 people were evacuated in quake-hit areas. It also toppled down 73 houses and severely damaged 19 others.

The Ministry of Emergency Management has activated an emergency response and sent a working team to the stricken areas to provide guidance in rescue and disaster relief.

The ministry and the National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration have dispatched 5,000 tents, 10,000 folding beds and 20,000 quilts to the quake-hit areas.

The first team of nine medical experts has set off for the quake-hit region while the second team stands by, according to the National Health Commission.

Team members are experts in critical care, orthopedics, psychology, epidemic control and sanitation from leading hospitals in Beijing and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Three national medical emergency teams have been on call while three local medical teams of about 50 members have reached the quake-hit region.

Relief materials from the Red Cross Society of China are on the way, including tents, quilts and coats, as well as several search and rescue teams.

China's armed police forces were also dispatched for rescue soon after the earthquake.

Nearly 800 armed police forces from Sichuan set off for the epicenter for rescue efforts with professional equipment including life detectors and forcible entry tools. More than 1,000 armed police forces from Sichuan Province were assigned as mobile forces for reinforcement.

Meanwhile, more than 1,800 militia members have been mobilized overnight to offer emergency relief, including on-the-spot rescue, disaster detection, and duties of vigilance, in the quake-stricken areas.

As of 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, a total of 17 aftershocks measuring 3-magnitude or above have been recorded in the areas.

Showers and thunder might occur in the next two days in Sichuan, China Meteorological Administration said Tuesday. The affected areas will also see moderate to heavy rain from June 20 and June 22.

The quake caused a major highway connecting Yibin and Xuyong County of Sichuan's Luzhou City to be closed. Some sections of other roads were also blocked or closed.

In the provincial capital Chengdu, an early warning system alarmed the public through multiple broadcasting systems about one minute before the earthquake struck. The same system alerted residents in Yibin 10 seconds before the quake hit.

The early warning system uses the theory that radio waves travel faster than seismic waves.

Earthquake research has found that being aware of an earthquake three seconds beforehand can save 14 percent of casualties, 10 seconds can save 39 percent of casualties and 20 seconds can save 63 percent of casualties.