An earthquake struck northwest China, claiming the lives of at least 116 people, as reported by state media on Tuesday. The powerful tremor, which occurred around midnight, resulted in 105 fatalities and nearly 400 injuries in Gansu province. Additionally, 11 people lost their lives, with 100 others injured in Haidong city in the neighboring province of Qinghai, according to CCTV.
The earthquake caused buildings to collapse and inflicted significant damage, prompting people to flee to the streets for safety. Heart-wrenching accounts from survivors revealed the terror and chaos unleashed by the quake. A woman, visibly shaken, shared a video on social media, describing how the earth gave way, causing her house to crumble.
Rescue efforts were immediately initiated in the freezing conditions, with Chinese President Xi Jinping urging “all-out efforts” in the search and relief work. The high-altitude region faced temperatures below freezing, raising concerns about potential secondary disasters.
The earthquake, initially recorded as magnitude 5.9 by the US Geological Survey, struck near the border of Gansu and Qinghai provinces. The epicenter, approximately 100 kilometers southwest of Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu, was felt in Xi’an, about 570 kilometers away. Xinhua reported the quake as magnitude 6.2.
The aftermath included several smaller aftershocks, with officials warning of possible tremors above 5.0 in the coming days. A separate quake with a magnitude of 5.2 was reported in Xinjiang province on Monday morning.
Power and water supplies were disrupted in villages around the epicenter, and images showed affected residents seeking warmth by fires while emergency services set up tents. Over 1,400 firefighters and rescue personnel were deployed to the disaster zone, with additional supplies such as drinking water, blankets, stoves, and instant noodles being sent.
Evacuations were underway in Gansu, where hundreds of people were moved to safety. The earthquake occurred at a shallow depth at 11:59 pm local time on Monday, according to the USGS, which later revised the magnitude to 5.9.
China has faced earthquakes before, with a notable 7.9-magnitude quake in 2008 leaving over 87,000 people dead or missing, including 5,335 schoolchildren. The recent seismic events underscore the ongoing challenge of managing natural disasters in the region, with memories of past tragedies still fresh in the collective consciousness.