Share

China Earthquake Kills 75, Destroys Thousands of Homes

Associated Press
Published: July 22, 2013

A strong, shallow earthquake struck a dry, hilly farming area in western China early Monday, killing at least 75 people, injuring more than 400, and destroying thousands of homes, state media and the local government said.

The quake hit near the city of Dingxi in Gansu province, a hilly region of mountains, desert and pastureland about 1,233 kilometers (766 miles) west of Beijing.

The tremor came three months and two days after a deadly quake hit Sichuan province on April 20, killing nearly 200 people.

Residents described shaking windows and swinging lights but there was relatively little major damage or panic in the city itself. Tremors were felt in the provincial capital of Lanzhou 177 kilometers (110 miles) north, and as far away as Xi'an, 400 kilometers (250 miles) to the east.

"You could see the chandeliers wobble and the windows vibrating and making noise, but there aren't any cracks in the walls. Shop assistants all poured out onto the streets when the shaking began," said a front desk clerk at the Wuyang Hotel in the Zhang County seat about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the epicenter. The clerk surnamed Bao refrained from identifying herself further, as is common among ordinary Chinese.

The Chinese government's earthquake monitoring center said the initial quake at 7:45 a.m. (7:45 p.m. U.S. Eastern time Sunday) was magnitude-6.6 and subsequent tremors included a magnitude-5.6.

The quake was shallow, which can be more destructive. The center said it struck about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) beneath the surface, while the Gansu provincial earthquake administration said it was just 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) deep.

The U.S. Geological Survey measured the magnitude of the initial quake as 5.9 and the depth at 9.8 kilometers (6.1 miles).

Initial measurements of an earthquake can vary widely, especially if different monitoring equipment is used.

China's state Xinhua News Agency said the death toll was at 75. An additional 14 people were missing, and 412 were injured, the provincial government said in a statement posted online.

The deaths and injuries were reported in Min County and other rural southern parts of the municipality, Dingxi Mayor Tang Xiaoming told state broadcaster CCTV. Tang said damage was worst in the counties of Zhang and Min, where scores of homes were damaged and telephone and electricity services knocked out.

Su Wei, leader of a 120-member rescue team from the paramilitary People's Armed Police, told state broadcaster CCTV that they were on their way to the epicenter, but progress was being slowed by mud and rock slides blocking the road.

The Chinese Red Cross said it was shipping 200 tents, 1,000 sets of household items, and 2,000 jackets to the area and sending teams from both Lanzhou and Beijing to help with relief work and assess further needs.

Heavy rain is expected in the area later in the week, raising the need for shelter and increasing the chance of further landslides.

(MORE: 5-Day Forecast for Damage Zone)

More than 1,200 homes were destroyed by the quake, with another 21,000 badly damaged, provincial government spokesman Chang Zhengguo was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency.

With a population of 26 million, Gansu is one of China's more lightly populated provinces, although the New Jersey-sized area of Dingxi has a greater concentration of farms in rolling hills terraced with fields for crops and fruit trees. Dingxi has a total population of about 2.7 million.

China's worst earthquake in recent years was a 7.9-magnitude temblor that struck the southwestern province of Sichuan in 2008, leaving 90,000 people dead or missing.

MORE: Deadliest Earthquakes since 1990

India: Sept. 29, 1993

India: Sept. 29, 1993

The first of two of the top-10 deadliest earthquakes of the last 25 years that occurred in India was a 6.2 temblor that killed 9,748, according to the USGS. (DOUGLAS E. CURRAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • India: Sept. 29, 1993
  • Turkey: Aug. 17, 1999
  • India: Jan. 26, 2001
  • Japan: March 11, 2011
  • Southeastern Iran: Dec. 26, 2003
  • Iran: June 20, 1990
  • Pakistan: Oct. 8, 2005
  • Eastern Sichuan, China: May 12, 2008
  • Northern Sumatra: Dec. 26, 2004
  • Haiti Earthquake: Jan. 12, 2010

Featured Blogs

Atlantic Invest 92L Likely Depression

By Dr. Jeff Masters
July 21, 2014

Warmest Days of the Year for the U.S.

By Christopher C. Burt
July 9, 2014

NOAA recently produced an interesting map showing when the hottest day of the year is likely to occur in the contiguous U.S. Complimenting this map is one produced by Brian Brettschneider of Borealis Scientific, LLC, which illustrates the date of summer’s midpoint (peak of summer average temperatures) which was reproduced in my blog posted last August. Brian has also produced maps of such for the Fall, Winter and Spring seasons. There is also some other great material from Brian herein.

Live Blog: Tracking Hurricane Arthur as it Approaches North Carolina Coast

By Shaun Tanner
July 3, 2014

This is a live blog set up to provide the latest coverage on Hurricane Arthur as it threatens the North Carolina Coast. Check back often to see what the latest is with Arthur. The most recent updates are at the top.

Tropical Terminology

By Stu Ostro
June 30, 2014

Here is some basic, fundamental terminology related to tropical cyclones. Rather than a comprehensive and/or technical glossary, this represents the essence of the meaning & importance of some key, frequently used terms.

2013-14 - An Interesting Winter From A to Z

By Tom Niziol
May 15, 2014

It was a very interesting winter across a good part of the nation from the Rockies through the Plains to the Northeast. Let's break down the most significant winter storms on a month by month basis.

What the 5th IPCC Assessment Doesn't Include

By Angela Fritz
September 27, 2013

Melting permafrost has the potential to release an additional 1.5 trillion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and could increase our global average temperature by 1.5°F in addition to our day-to-day human emissions. However, this effect is not included in the IPCC report issued Friday morning, which means the estimates of how Earth's climate will change are likely on the conservative side.