Beijing: 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,reports said.
Residents described shaking windows and swinging lights in communities where the quake hit near the city of Dingxi in Gansu province, a region of mountains, desert and pastureland about 1,230 kilometres west of Beijing.
Tremors were felt in the provincial capital of Lanzhou 177 kilometres north, and as far away as Xian, 400 kilometres to the east.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.
More than 1,200 homes were destroyed by the quake, with another 21,000 badly damaged. More than 21,000 buildings were severely damaged and more than 1,200 have collapsed. Rescuers rushed to find victims buried by these twin shallow earthquakes in northwest China.
With a population of 26 million, Gansu is one of Chinas more lightly populated provinces. Chinas 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.As the rescue work is tough more than 2,000 soldiers, 300 police, 50 medical staff and two helicopters had been sent to the area, reports said.
The US Geological Survey said the initial 5.9-magnitude quake hit at 7:45 am (2345 GMT Sunday) at a depth of just 9.8 kilometres. A second 5.6-magnitude tremor hit the same region at 9:12 am and was 10.1 kilometres deep.
A total of 380 buildings collapsed and thousands were damaged in Zhang county. Communications were cut off in 13 towns in the county and power was off in some areas. The quake was felt in the provincial capital Lanzhou and as far away as Xian, the capital of the neighbouring province of Shaanxi.
Much of western China is prone to earthquakes. A magnitude 6.6 earthquake in neighbouring Sichuan province killed about 200 people earlier this year, five years after almost 90,000 people were killed in a huge tremor in the same province.
Heavy rain is expected in the area later in the week, raising the need for shelter and increasing the chance of further landslides and which could hamper rescue efforts in the mountain region.