Southwest China earthquake death toll rises to 65

The death toll from a 6.8-magnitude earthquake that shook southwest China’s Sichuan province has reached at least 65.

At least 16 other people are missing a day after the quake hit a mountainous region in Luding County, which sits on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau where tectonic plates meet and is regularly hit by quakes.

The tremor rocked buildings in the provincial capital of Chengdu, whose 21 million people are already under Covid-19 lockdown.

Power was cut and buildings damaged in the historic town of Moxi in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Garze, where 37 people were killed.

Dozens of people died in the earthquake that shook southwest China’s Sichuan Province on Monday (Xinhua/AP)

Tents have been erected for more than 50,000 people displaced from homes made unsafe by the quake, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

State broadcaster CCTV showed rescue teams pulling a woman who appeared uninjured from a collapsed house in Moxi, where many buildings are constructed from a mixture of wood and bricks. About 150 people were reported with varying degrees of injuries.

Another 28 people were killed in neighboring Shimian county, on the outskirts of Ya’an city. Another 248 people were reported injured, mostly in Moxi, and another 12 people were reported missing.

Three of the dead were workers at the Hailuogou Scenic Area, a nature reserve of glaciers and forests.

Rockfalls are seen on a road near the town of Lengqi in Luding County
The quake triggered landslides and rocked residents of a major city under lockdown (Xinhua/AP)

Along with the deaths, authorities reported rocks and dirt falling on the mountainside, causing damage to homes and power cuts, CCTV said. A landslide has blocked a rural highway, leaving it littered with rocks, the Department of Emergency Management said.

Buildings shook in Chengdu, 200 kilometers (125 miles) from the epicentre.

The earthquake and lockdown follow a heatwave and drought that led to water shortages and power outages due to Sichuan’s reliance on hydroelectricity. This is on top of the latest major lockdown under China’s strict ‘zero-Covid’ policy.

China’s deadliest earthquake in recent years was a magnitude 7.9 quake in 2008 that killed nearly 90,000 people in Sichuan. It devastated towns, schools and rural communities outside Chengdu, prompting a years-long effort to rebuild with stronger materials.

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