At least 150 people have been killed and 180 others are missing after a 6.5-magnitude earthquake jolted southwest China's Yunnan Province Sunday afternoon.
The strong quake hit at 4:30 p.m. Sunday (Beijing Time) with a depth of 12 km and the epicenter in Longtoushan township, 23 km southwest of the county seat of Ludian, Zhaotong City. As of 8:00 p.m., more than 120 residents were killed, over 180 were missing and 1,300 got injured in Ludian County, according to the local government. It said more than 12,000 houses were toppled and 30,000 damaged. Transportation, electricity and telecommunications have been cut off in the county. The quake has also led to at least 30 deaths in Qiaojia County of Zhaotong and nearby Huize County of Qujing City. Ma Hao, a college student who is volunteering for the rescue at Longtoushan Township, told Xinhua that he saw bodies buried in ruins and helped to carry more than 40 injured people out of the collapsed buildings. "Honestly, it's such a shame that we had no time to take care of the bodies. We need to help those alive first," he said. "I felt a strong jolt on my fifth-floor home and some small objects in my home fell off the shelves," said a resident in the county seat of Ludian. Most people rushed out of buildings to the streets. Electricity was cut, telecommunications services were affected and it was hard to reach people in Ludian by mobile phone, the resident said. Another resident said it felt like "sailing a boat" when he was driving a car in the tremor. Ma Liya, a resident in the county seat, told Xinhua via telephone that the streets were like "battlefield after bombardment". She added that the house of her neighbor, a new two-story building, was toppled.
"It's so terrible. The aftermath is much much worse than what happened after the quake two years ago. I have never felt so strong tremors before. What I can see are all ruins," she said.
However, Ma is worrying more about the family of her cousin, who live in the epicenter Longtoushan, as her calls to the families got unanswered.
"I just hope they are safe and sound. They didn't answer the calls," she said.
The quake toppled and cracked many buildings, particularly old ones and residential homes.
"Too many buildings were damaged and we are collecting data on deaths and injuries," said Chen Guoyong, head of the Longtoushan township, adding an rescue operation is under way.
The road leading to the township was damaged in a landslide before the quake and the traffic has not been resumed.
Zhaotong City has dispatched more than 300 police and firefighters to the quake-hit areas. The province also sent 392 rescuers and 12 sniffer dogs.
The civil affairs authorities are sending 2,000 tents, 3,000 folding beds, 3,000 quilts and 3,000 coats to the quake region.
Ludian has a population of 265,900 in its seven townships.
Zhaotong, about 300 km from Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan, is on the earthquake belt and has been occasionally jolted by quakes.
In September 2012, a 5.7-magnitude caused more than 80 deaths and injured more than 800 people.
In 1974, a 7.1-magnitude earthquake in the same place caused over 1,400 deaths.
More rains are forecasted in the coming three days, according to the website of China Meteorological Administration.