Relief efforts are in full swing in Southwest China's Yunnan Province where 22 people were killed and more than 100 injured after an earthquake on Saturday.
According to reports, some 6,000 homes collapsed in the quake, which measured 5.1 on the Richter scale. The tremors hit Yanjin County in Zhaotong City at about 9:10 am.
Life in the county was slowly returning to normal yesterday afternoon, with power supply and train services mostly restored.
"Most of the victims were killed under collapsing homes and falling rocks," Li Jiangren, deputy director of the publicity department of the Yanjin county government, told China Daily on the phone. "Of the injured, eight are in serious condition in county hospitals."
At least five aftershocks measuring 2 on the Richter scale rattled the area yesterday, Beijing News said.
Apart from the 6,000 buildings destroyed in the affected area, more than 9,000 buildings are in danger of collapse and 38,000 were damaged by the quake, which shook 13 townships in the region. The epicenter was about 90 kilometers from Yunnan's Zhaotong city, Xinhua news agency said.
Houses in Yanjin, situated in the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau with a population of 350,000, were mostly built on land vulnerable to earthquakes, Xinhua said, citing seismological experts.
Chen Li, who was working on an expressway construction site when the quake hit, told China Daily on the phone: "We heard a big sound like thunder or fireworks. Then rocks fell from the hills and houses were shaking. It all happened in four or five seconds. Then someone shouted 'earthquake.' People ran out of buildings and went to the streets."
But by yesterday, power supply in the disaster areas was mostly restored, making rescue efforts easier, said Tian Rongping, administrative director of the Zhaotong municipal government.
The Neijiang-Kunming railway, a major railway line linking Yunnan to Guizhou, Sichuan and Chongqing Municipality, resumed service yesterday morning, Liu Zhenfang, deputy director of the Kunming Railway Bureau, was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
Relief materials have reached the affected areas, and tents, quilts and blankets have been sent to the quake-hit areas along with food and water, a local official said.
More than 50,000 affected residents had been moved to safety by yesterday afternoon, said Wu Yongfei, vice-mayor of Zhaotong.
(China Daily July 24, 2006)