Series of earthquakes jolt mountainous SW China

At least 64 deaths have been reported

Topics: China, Earthquakes, From the Wires

Series of earthquakes jolt mountainous SW ChinaPeople run as rocks fall near their vehicles after the area was hit by an earthquake in Zhaotong town, Yiliang County, southwest China's Yunnan Province, Friday, Sept. 7, 2012. (AP Photo) CHINA OUT

BEIJING — A series of earthquakes collapsed houses and triggered landslides Friday in a remote mountainous part of southwestern China where damage was preventing rescues and communications were disrupted. At least 64 deaths have been reported.

The quakes started with a 5.6-magnitude shock before 11:30 a.m. along the borders of Guizhou and Yunnan provinces, and another equally big quake struck shortly after noon followed by more than 60 aftershocks, Chinese and U.S. government seismologists said. Though of moderate strength, the quakes were shallow, which often causes more damage.

Hardest hit was Yiliang County, where all but one of the deaths occurred, according to the Yunnan provincial government’s official website. Another 715 people in the county were injured, the sites said. Yiliang county’s high population density, weak building construction, and propensity for landslides were blamed for the relatively high death toll.

China Central Television showed roads littered with rocks and boulders, and pillars of dust rising over hillcrests — signs of landslides. Footage showed a couple hundred people crowding into what looked like a school athletic field in Yiliang’s county seat, a sizeable city spread along a river in a valley bottom.

With some roads impassable, rescuers had yet to reach some outlying villages and towns, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Though quakes in the area occur frequently, buildings in rural areas and China’s fast-growing smaller cities and towns are often constructed poorly. In 2008, a magnitude-7.9 quake that hit Sichuan province, just north of Yunnan, killed nearly 90,000 people, with many of the deaths blamed on poorly built structures, including schools.

Friday’s quakes destroyed or damaged almost 30,000 homes across several counties and townships, the provincial government website said. The Yunnan seismology bureau said more than 100,000 people were evacuated from their homes. All told, Xinhua said, 700,000 people had their lives disrupted by the quake.

In Luozehe, a town in Yiliang near a zinc mine, residents and state media said boulders hurtled off hillsides and houses collapsed.

“It is scary. My brother was killed by falling rocks. The aftershocks struck again and again. We are so afraid,” Xinhua quoted miner Peng Zhuwen as saying.

Wu Xuhong, a goat herder in Luozhe, said only tiles fell from his relatively solid cement and brick sheds.

“But I heard that a lot of buildings built of clay and wood collapsed and we temporarily lost power and mobile phone signal,” Wu said.



Red Cross spokesman for East Asia, Francis Markus, said 2,000 quilts, 2,000 jackets and 500 tents were being rushed to the area, one of China’s poorest, which is largely inhabited by members of the Yi ethnic minority.

He said the use of light construction materials would likely create far more injuries than deaths.

A government official in Jiaokui town said a large number of houses had collapsed.

“The casualty number is still being compiled. I don’t know what it was like for the other towns, but my town got hit badly,” he said. Like many Chinese officials, he refused to give his name.

Mobile phone services were down and regular phone lines disrupted. Phones were cut off to clinics in four villages in Qiaoshan, another town in Yiliang, which has about half a million people.

Authorities sent thousands of tents, blankets and coats to the area, Xinhua said.

It said that so far no casualties had been reported in neighboring Guizhou, but that homes had been damaged or destroyed there.

Friday’s quakes were relatively shallow, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) deep, creating an intense shaking even at a lower magnitude.

By comparison, the 7.6-magnitude quake that struck Costa Rica this week was 41 kilometers (25 miles) below the surface, and combined with strict building codes, kept damage and deaths to a minimum.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
    Kerascoët's lovely, delicate pen-and-watercolor art -- all intricate botanicals, big eyes and flowing hair -- gives this fairy story a deceptively pretty finish. You find out quickly, however, that these are the heartless and heedless fairies of folk legend, not the sentimental sprites beloved by the Victorians and Disney fans. A host of tiny hominid creatures must learn to survive in the forest after fleeing their former home -- a little girl who lies dead in the woods. The main character, Aurora, tries to organize the group into a community, but most of her cohort is too capricious, lazy and selfish to participate for long. There's no real moral to this story, which is refreshing in itself, beyond the perpetual lessons that life is hard and you have to be careful whom you trust. Never has ugly truth been given a prettier face.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
    Squarzoni is a French cartoonist who makes nonfiction graphic novels about contemporary issues and politics. While finishing up a book about France under Jacques Chirac, he realized that when it came to environmental policy, he didn't know what he was talking about. "Climate Changed" is the result of his efforts to understand what has been happening to the planet, a striking combination of memoir and data that ruminates on a notoriously elusive, difficult and even imponderable subject. Panels of talking heads dispensing information (or Squarzoni discussing the issues with his partner) are juxtaposed with detailed and meticulous yet lyrical scenes from the author's childhood, the countryside where he takes a holiday and a visit to New York. He uses his own unreachable past as a way to grasp the imminent transformation of the Earth. The result is both enlightening and unexpectedly moving.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Here by Richard McGuire
    A six-page version of this innovative work by a regular contributor to the New Yorker first appeared in RAW magazine 25 years ago. Each two-page spread depicts a single place, sometimes occupied by a corner of a room, over the course of 4 billion years. The oldest image is a blur of pink and purple gases; others depict hazmat-suited explorers from 300 years in the future. Inset images show the changing decor and inhabitants of the house throughout its existence: family photos, quarrels, kids in Halloween costumes, a woman reading a book, a cat walking across the floor. The cumulative effect is serene and ravishing, an intimation of the immensity of time and the wonder embodied in the humblest things.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
    The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist delivers his debut graphic novel at 85, a deliriously over-the-top blend of classic movie noir and melodrama that roams from chiaroscuro Bay City to Hollywood to a USO gig in the Pacific theater of World War II. There's a burnt-out drunk of a private eye, but the story is soon commandeered by a multigenerational collection of ferocious women, including a mysterious chanteuse who never speaks, a radio comedy writer who makes a childhood friend the butt of a hit series and a ruthless dame intent on making her whiny coward of a husband into a star. There are disguises, musical numbers and plenty of gunfights, but the drawing is the main attraction. Nobody convey's bodies in motion more thrillingly than Feiffer, whether they're dancing, running or duking it out. The kid has promise.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
    This is a weird one, but in the nervy surreal way that word-playful novels like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Ulysses" are weird. The main character, a teenage schoolboy named Scarper Lee, lives in a world where it rains knives and people make their own parents, contraptions that can be anything from a tiny figurine stashable in a pocket to biomorphic boiler-like entities that seem to have escaped from Dr. Seuss' nightmares. Their homes are crammed with gadgets they call gods and instead of TV they watch a hulu-hoop-size wheel of repeating images that changes with the day of the week. They also know their own "death day," and Scarper's is coming up fast. Maybe that's why he runs off with the new girl at school, a real troublemaker, and the obscurely dysfunctional Castro, whose mother is a cageful of talking parakeets. A solid towline of teenage angst holds this manically inventive vision together, and proves that some graphic novels can rival the text-only kind at their own game.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    NOBROW 9: It's Oh So Quiet
    For each issue, the anthology magazine put out by this adventurous U.K.-based publisher of independent graphic design, illustration and comics gives 45 artists a four-color palette and a theme. In the ninth issue, the theme is silence, and the results are magnificent and full of surprises. The comics, each told in images only, range from atmospheric to trippy to jokey to melancholy to epic to creepy. But the two-page illustrations are even more powerful, even if it's not always easy to see how they pertain to the overall concept of silence. Well, except perhaps for the fact that so many of them left me utterly dumbstruck with visual delight.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Over Easy by Mimi Pond
    When Pond was a broke art student in the 1970s, she took a job at a neighborhood breakfast spot in Oakland, a place with good food, splendid coffee and an endlessly entertaining crew of short-order cooks, waitresses, dishwashers and regular customers. This graphic memoir, influenced by the work of Pond's friend, Alison Bechdel, captures the funky ethos of the time, when hippies, punks and disco aficionados mingled in a Bay Area at the height of its eccentricity. The staff of the Imperial Cafe were forever swapping wisecracks and hopping in and out of each other's beds, which makes them more or less like every restaurant team in history. There's an intoxicating esprit de corps to a well-run everyday joint like the Imperial Cafe, and never has the delight in being part of it been more winningly portrayed.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
    You don't have to be a superhero fan to be utterly charmed by Yang and Liew's revival of a little-known character created in the 1940s by the cartoonist Chu Hing. This version of the Green Turtle, however, is rich in characterization, comedy and luscious period detail from the Chinatown of "San Incendio" (a ringer for San Francisco). Hank, son of a mild-mannered grocer, would like to follow in his father's footsteps, but his restless mother (the book's best character and drawn with masterful nuance by Liew) has other ideas after her thrilling encounter with a superhero. Yang's story effortlessly folds pathos into humor without stooping to either slapstick or cheap "darkness." This is that rare tribute that far surpasses the thing it celebrates.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Shoplifter by Michael Cho
    Corinna Park, former English major, works, unhappily, in a Toronto advertising agency. When the dissatisfaction of the past five years begins to oppress her, she lets off steam by pilfering magazines from a local convenience store. Cho's moody character study is as much about city life as it is about Corinna. He depicts her falling asleep in front of the TV in her condo, brooding on the subway, roaming the crowded streets after a budding romance goes awry. Like a great short story, this is a simple tale of a young woman figuring out how to get her life back, but if feels as if it contains so much of contemporary existence -- its comforts, its loneliness, its self-deceptions -- suspended in wintery amber.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
    This collection of archetypal horror, fairy and ghost stories, all about young girls, comes lushly decked in Carroll's inky black, snowy white and blood-scarlet art. A young bride hears her predecessor's bones singing from under the floorboards, two friends make the mistake of pretending to summon the spirits of the dead, a family of orphaned siblings disappears one by one into the winter nights. Carroll's color-saturated images can be jagged, ornate and gruesome, but she also knows how to chill with absence, shadows and a single staring eye. Literary readers who cherish the work of Kelly Link or the late Angela Carter's collection, "The Bloody Chamber," will adore the violent beauty on these pages.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>