Updated: Mon, 22 Apr 2013 09:15:00 GMT | By MSN News
Earthquake hits China

A powerful earthquake struck the steep hills of China's south-western Sichuan province, leaving at least 180 people dead and more than 11,000 injured.



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The quake, which happened last Saturday, 20 April 2013, while not as destructive as that in 2008, toppled buildings, triggered landslides and disrupted phone and power connections in mountainous Lushan county. The village of Longmen was hit particularly hard, with authorities saying nearly all the buildings had been destroyed and state television showing footage of soldiers digging through rubble.

Rescuers turned the square outside the Lushan County Hospital into a triage centre, where medical personnel bandaged bleeding victims, according to footage on China Central Television. Rescuers dynamited boulders that had fallen across roads to reach Longmen and other damaged areas lying farther up the mountain valleys, state media reported.

The official Xinhua News Agency, citing the Sichuan earthquake bureau, said at least 188 people had died. The government of Ya'an city, which administers Lushan, said in a statement that more than 11,460 people were injured.

The quake - measured by China's seismological bureau at magnitude 7.0 and the US Geological Survey at 6.6 - struck the steep hills of Lushan county shortly after 8am. People in their underwear and wrapped in blankets ran into the streets of Ya'an and even the provincial capital of Chengdu, 70 miles east of Lushan, according to photos, video and accounts posted online.

The quake's shallow depth, less than eight miles, is likely to have magnified the impact, and CCTV showed footage from local security cameras that were shaking. Chengdu's airport shut down for about an hour before reopening, though many flights were cancelled or delayed, state media said.

Lushan, where the quake struck, lies where the fertile Sichuan plain meets foothills that eventually rise to the Tibetan plateau and sits atop the Longmenshan fault. It was along that fault line that the devastating magnitude-7.9 quake struck on May 12, 2008, leaving more than 90,000 people dead or missing and presumed dead in one of the worst natural disasters to strike China in recent decades.

Xinhua said the well-known Bifengxia panda preserve, which is near Lushan, was not affected by the quake. Dozens of pandas were moved to Bifengxia from another preserve, Wolong, after its habitat was wrecked by the 2008 quake.

China Earth Administration said there had been at least 35 aftershocks, including at least two of magnitude 5.0 or higher.

Click on for more photos of the earthquake.

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