China Quake Toll May Be Worse Than Initially Feared
SHANGHAI-The devastation from an earthquake that struck southwestern China on Saturday is much worse than initially feared, state-run news media reported on Sunday, saying that the quake had damaged 258,000 homes and killed at least 32 people.The earthquake, which was centered in Sichuan Province and had a magnitude of 6.1, damaged highways, reservoirs, bridges and hundreds of schools, and it forced the evacuation of more than 40,000 people in Sichuan and neighboring Yunnan Province, reported Xinhua, the state news agency. More than 230 people were reported injured.Sichuan was devastated on May 12 by China’s worst natural disaster in over 30 years, a 7.9-magnitude earthquake that killed nearly 70,000 people and left millions homeless, so thoroughly damaging the region that recovery efforts were expected to take years, if not decades.Since the quake hit at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, the region has suffered hundreds of aftershocks. The strongest was Sunday afternoon, when one with a preliminary magnitude of 5.1, was reported in Sichuan, but it was unclear whether there was any new damage, Chinese officials said.Over the weekend, poor communication in the southern part of Sichuan was making it difficult for the government and news agencies to determine the scale of the damage or how many people had died.The earthquake was centered near the city of Panzhihua, in the southern part of Sichuan, far south of the May 12 earthquake, according to the state-run news media. The China Earthquake Administration ordered an emergency response to the area after early reports of heavy damage in some places.Sichuan is one of China’s largest provinces, and Sichuan and Yunnan are home to millions of people from ethnic minorities.The government said that about 70,000 people in Panzhihua alone were affected by Saturday’s earthquake. And in one part of Sichuan, about 660 school buildings were destroyed.The tremors were felt as far north as Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan, and also in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan to the south.