UPDATED 9/6/2022 3:35 PM EDT

In southwest China’s Sichuan province, rescuers scrambled to evacuate and help thousands of victims after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck Ludin province on Monday, killing at least 66 people and injuring 253 others.

Ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping’s call for “comprehensive relief efforts … prioritizing saving lives and minimizing casualties” grabbed the front pages of state-controlled media on Tuesday.

A resident of Moxi, a town not far from the epicenter of the quake, which was measured 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the provincial capital Chengdu, said the epicenter was in the scenic tourist area of ​​Hailuogou, a few kilometers outside the city.

“Basically, a lot of people were crushed under it [collapsed] houses in their own houses; most of the dead and casualties are under the houses,” a resident, who gave only his surname Lee, told RFA on Tuesday.

“The official announcement is that 29 people have died in Kardze Prefecture, for a total of 46 people, including Shimian County and villages around Hailuogou area,” Li said. For example, some people fell under a landslide while walking along the road.

sichuanEQ_03.pngLee said rescue efforts were “too fast” to appear in the area.

Li says many of the buildings around Hailuogou were built to rent out to tourists using the app.

“A lot of people around Hailuogou borrowed money or their relatives gave them money and they built these houses on credit,” Li said, adding that the government insisted that locals develop the tourism industry rather than illegal income. entry.

“Many had lost their land and had no income, so they thought they would invest in these guesthouses and restaurants by borrowing, but the government is not making long-term plans,” he said. Safety controls on newly constructed buildings in the earthquake-prone area were weak.

A Tibetan source in the area told RFA on condition of anonymity that residents have been told they are not yet out of the forest.

“Tibetans living in cities are currently staying in makeshift tents set up in open areas, and Chinese authorities have advised them to continue to be vigilant and prepared.”

Meanwhile, authorities in Chengdu continued to enforce a city-wide COVID-19 lockdown despite buildings collapsing and shaking in the city, according to video clips uploaded to social media.

Resident Wang Yan said that he felt the earthquake very strongly in his apartment.

“I was at home and I started to feel dizzy – the stool I was sitting on swayed,” Wang said. “I wanted to get up and go to the toilet, but I couldn’t stand up.”

“It was like trying to walk on cotton cloth and it kept swaying for a long time,” he said.

A resident of Mianyang, one of the hardest hit areas in the May 12, 2008 earthquake that killed 89,000 people, said they had seen strange animal behavior shortly before the earthquake.

“Bats and birds gathered together and flew around and the fish in the fish ponds here started jumping out of the water,” says the resident. “People said it meant there was going to be an earthquake.”

“Of course it happened within eight hours,” the person said.

Rescuers carry an injured person after a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Ludin County, Ganzi Prefecture, southwest China's Sichuan Province, September 6, 2022. Credit: CNS/AFP
Rescuers carry an injured person after a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Ludin County, Ganzi Prefecture, southwest China’s Sichuan Province, September 6, 2022. Credit: CNS/AFP

The level of emergency response has increased

On Monday night, Kardze Tibet Autonomous Prefecture, where Luding County is located, raised the prefecture’s earthquake emergency response to Level I, the highest in the four-tier emergency response system. Global Times informed.

More than 6,500 rescue workers, including firefighters and armed police, were dispatched to the area, along with four helicopters and two drones, and more than 50,000 residents were evacuated, it said, citing “media reports” and Sichuan officials.

The Xi’an Satellite Control Center deployed the Gaofen-3 satellite to allow satellite users to receive remote sensing images of earthquake-affected regions in time, allowing experts to assess ongoing risks in the disaster area.

At 17:00 local time, a Twin-Tail Scorpion drone was dispatched to assist with inspections and communications coverage to restore mobile phone signals for local residents and rescue teams, the paper said.

Many residential communities warned local residents of the earthquake in advance through loudspeakers across Sichuan, and tens of millions of residents saw the warnings via TV or mobile phones, as did epidemic prevention and control workers.

“They were able to get emergency shelter in time,” the government statement was quoted as saying, adding that 150 million yuan had been earmarked for aid.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

The story has been updated to include the latest official figures on the number of dead and injured, as well as a quote from a Tibetan resident in the area.

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