Local officials reported that the death toll from the shallow earthquake that struck northwestern China’s Gansu province late Monday night has exceeded 100, with many more injured and missing.
A powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 struck Gansu’s Jishishan county, located approximately 60 miles southwest of the provincial capital Lanzhou. This seismic event, as reported by the U.S. Geological Survey, occurred just before midnight local time, affecting a region with a population of 2.7 million residents.
According to China’s earthquake monitoring agency, the seismic event registered a magnitude of 6.2 at a depth of 10 kilometers, equivalent to slightly over 6 miles.
During a press briefing on Tuesday, a local official reported that the earthquake caused the death of at least 105 individuals and left over 180 injured in Gansu. The devastating aftermath of the quake has resulted in the disruption of crucial systems including water, electricity, transportation, and communication in certain areas.
11 additional fatalities and 100 more injuries were reported in the neighboring province of Qinghai, as per state broadcaster China Central Television.
In a phone interview, 35-year-old Liu Zhenfang, a receptionist at a hotel in Jishishan, located approximately 10 miles from the earthquake’s epicenter, described the tremors as so intense that “the dust was shaken off the surveillance cameras.” She, along with her colleagues and all the guests, rushed into the street.
State media footage and photographs display bottles and various items falling off the shelves of a nearby convenience store while startled guests flee a restaurant. Additionally, rescue workers were captured on film entering villages where entire buildings had crumbled.
According to state media, Xi Jinping, the leader of China, urged a full-scale response in the search and rescue efforts, emphasizing the challenging high-altitude conditions and low temperatures in the disaster area.
According to a local official at a press briefing in Jishishan on Tuesday, the government has sent 1,400 rescue personnel to the earthquake zone, and an additional 1,600 are on standby.
Emergency workers are courageously facing the freezing weather in Jishishan, one of China’s impoverished regions. According to residents, snow has been falling for over a month, and nighttime temperatures have dropped to between five and 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
Jishishan resident Ma Aiyoubu reported that numerous rescue workers had reached the area by 2:30 a.m., just about two hours after the earthquake. In an interview, Ma described feeling the tremors for approximately 30 seconds while he was in his room, and even provided a video showing the aftermath in his bathroom, where the water boiler had fallen to the ground.
Ma stated his expectation of a rise in the number of victims due to the collapse of several buildings in the countryside.
According to the local official, there have been a minimum of 32 aftershocks that occurred at approximately the same depth as the earthquake. Furthermore, the official also mentioned that there is a possibility of more aftershocks occurring.
According to an official, Jishishan is situated in a region that is susceptible to earthquakes. Since 1900, three earthquakes with a magnitude greater than 6 have occurred within 120 miles of Monday’s epicenter.
Due to China’s substantial population, even earthquakes in remote regions can result in widespread fatalities. For instance, the devastating 7.9-magnitude earthquake that struck the southwestern province of Sichuan in 2008 claimed the lives of over 87,000 individuals, leaving them either deceased or unaccounted for.