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Rescuers dig in freezing cold after China quake kills 131

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Rescuers dig in freezing cold after China quake kills 131

According to CCTV, at least 113 people were murdered in northern Gansu province and 18 more were slain in nearby Qinghai province after a weak earthquake on Monday night damaged hundreds of houses

FP Staff December 20, 2023 08:28:04 IST Rescuers dig in freezing cold after China quake kills 131

A government worker looks at the debris of a house brought down in the earthquake in Jishishan county in northwest China's Gansu province. At least 100 people have been killed in a magnitude 6.2 earthquake in a cold and mountainous region in northwestern China. AP

On Wednesday, rescuers searched through wreckage for a second cold day as overnight temperatures dropped far below zero, bringing the death toll in China’s biggest earthquake in years to 131.

According to CCTV, at least 113 people were murdered in northern Gansu province and 18 more were slain in nearby Qinghai province after a weak earthquake on Monday night damaged hundreds of houses.

The quake was the deadliest in China since 2014, when over 600 people were killed in southwestern Yunnan province.

The scars of regular seismic activity can be found throughout China’s western hinterland. In 2008, a massive earthquake in Sichuan province killed or injured around 87,000 people, including 5,335 students.

“The treatment and rescue of the injured as well as emergency infrastructure repair are ongoing,” CCTV said on Wednesday.

The US Geological Survey said Monday night’s magnitude-5.9 quake struck at a shallow depth at 11:59 pm local time (1559 GMT) with an epicentre around 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Gansu’s provincial capital, Lanzhou.

Dozens of smaller aftershocks followed and officials warned that tremors with a magnitude of more than 5.0 were possible in the next few days.

Fears are growing that survivors awaiting rescue could succumb to the bitter cold, with temperatures at the epicentre in Gansu’s Jishishan county expected to dip as low as -17 degrees Celsius (1.4 Fahrenheit) on Wednesday.

AFP reporters saw residents in the remote town of Dahejia, near the quake’s epicentre, huddling around small fires outdoors on Tuesday, afraid to return to badly damaged dwellings.

Thousands of firefighters and rescue personnel have been sent to the disaster zone and state media said 2,500 tents, 20,000 coats and 5,000 rollaway beds had been sent to Gansu.

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