Strong Earthquake in Southwestern China Kills 150, Largest in 14 Years

A strong earthquake with a magnitude 6.1 rating (as measured by the US Geological Survey) struck in the Yunnan province yesterday in southwestern China, killing 150 people, according to the Xinhua News Agency. The original death count stood at 26.

The earthquake struck at around 4:30pm (16:30 local time, 08:30GMT) with a 6-mile radius, having been located at about 7 miles northwest of Wenping (Yunnan province). While only 150 people have been declared dead, there’re another 180 missing and as many as 1,400 people could be injured in the quake. CCTV, the national Chinese broadcasting station, says that the 6.1 earthquake is the largest Yunnan’s seen in 14 years.

The hardest hit area in southwestern China, according to Xinhua, is the area called Longtoushan in Ludian county. According to local reports, one school collapsed along with many homes in the area, while others ran into the streets after feeling the impact of the earthquake. Electricity is down as well, to be expected in such a massive earthquake. There’s been no word on whether or not there’ve been school casualties as a result of the collapsed building.

Residents gave their own descriptions of the massive earthquake. “I felt a strong jolt on my fifth-floor home and some small objects in my home fell off the shelves,” said a Ludian county resident. Another resident was in his car driving when the earthquake hit, describing the feeling of the impact as “sailing a boat.”

As for what help is being supplied to southwestern China, we know that Yunnan’s administration has sent 30 people to help the affected area, while the civil affairs authorities intend to send supplies to Yunnan to help the recovery process: 3,000 supplies of quilts, coats, and folding beds, along with 2,000 tents, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

It is believed by scientists and researchers alike that earthquakes can be blamed on seismic activity occurring underground causing the tectonic plates to shift back and forth. Southwestern China saw a 7.1-magnitude earthquake strike in 1974, killing over 1,400 people.