Jul 212013

A 6.6-magnitude earthquake jolted a juncture region of two counties in northwest China’s Gansu Province Monday morning, leaving at least 56 people dead, 412 others injured and 14 missing, according to local authorities.

A house is damaged in quake-affected Lixian County, northwest China’s Gansu Province, July 22, 2013. [Photo/Xinhua]

As of 1 p.m., the 6.6-magnitude quake, which happened at 7:45 a.m. at the juncture of Minxian County and Zhangxian County in the city of Dingxi, has also left over 300 others injured, the publicity department of Dingxi city government.

As of noon on Monday, 371 aftershocks had been recorded in the quake-hit region, with the strongest measuring 5.6 magnitude, Chang Zhengguo, spokesman for the provincial government, said at a press conference in the provincial capital city of Lanzhou.

Initial investigation showed that the quake had caused the collapse of over 1,200 homes and severe damage to 21,000 homes, he added.

Xinhua reporters arrived at the seriously-hit Meichuan Township, of Minxian County, around noon on Monday.

A total of 31 people have been confirmed dead in Meichuan, according to rescuers.

Five rural residential buildings have collapsed and cracks could be seen on many walls in Chagu Village, Meichuan Township.

Communication in many villages in Meichuan Township and in 13 towns of Zhangxian County has been cut off. Power has been cut off in five towns in the eastern part of Minxian County as of 2 p.m..

The epicenter of the quake, with a depth of 20 km, was monitored at 34.5 degrees north latitude and 104.2 degrees east longitude, the China Earthquake Networks Center said.

The earthquake happened at a fault zone in the province, which has recorded 25 earthquakes with a magnitude of over 5 throughout history, the China Earthquake Administration said. The strongest quake recorded around the fault zone was measured with a magnitude of 8.0 on July 21, 1654. That one occurred about 121 km from the site of the latest quake, it added.

Sources with the Minxian County government said most of the townships in the county have been affected by the quake.

Locals in Minxian County said the quake lasted for about one minute.

Armed police, firefighters and more than 300 local militiamen have been dispatched to the quake-hit region to help with rescue efforts.

The provincial civil affairs department has sent 500 tents and 2,000 quilts.

The Lanzhou Railway Bureau has started an emergency response to guarantee the safety of railway bridges and communication equipment in the province.

Light to heavy rain has been forecast in Dingxi City, according to the provincial meteorological station. This will affect the rescue efforts.

Meanwhile, the earthquake was also felt in Tianshui City and Lanzhou as well as the cities of Xi’an, Baoji and Xianyang in neighboring Shaanxi Province.

(Xinhua contributed to the story)

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