World News – A strong 6.6 magnitude earthquake hit southwestern China’s Sichuan province on Saturday, killing at least 56 people and injuring about 600 close to where a big quake killed almost 70,000 people in 2008.
The earthquake occurred at 8.02 a.m in Lushan County near Ya’an city and the epicentre had a depth of 12 km, the US Geological Survey said.
The quake was felt by residents in neighbouring provinces and in the provincial capital of Chengdu, causing many people to rush out of buildings, according to accounts on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo microblogging service.
The official Xinhua news agency said 56 people had been confirmed dead. Other state media said about 600 were injured, dozens of them seriously.
President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang said that all efforts must be put into rescuing victims to limit the death toll as much as possible. Li was on his way to Ya’an, state media said.
Xinhua said 2,000 troops were heading to the area to help with rescue efforts. State television CCTV said only emergency vehicles were being allowed into Ya’an, though Chengdu airport had reopened.
Most of the deaths were concentrated in Lushan, where water and electricity were cut off. Pictures on Chinese news sites showed collapsed buildings and people in bloodied bandages being treated in hospital.
Rescuers in Lushan had pulled 27 survivors out of rubble, Xinhua said.
“We are very busy right now, there are about eight or nine injured people, the doctors are handling the cases,” said a doctor at a Ya’an hospital who gave her family name as Liu. The hospital was seeing head and leg injuries, she added. Agencies