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Grief and rescue after SW China quake

2014-10-08 16:12 Xinhua Web Editor: Gu Liping

A candlelight vigil was held early Wednesday morning as the body of 58-year-old Dao Qiongfen lay in a coffin.

Several hours before, the woman, the sole victim so far in a 6.6-magnitude quake that jolted southwest China's Yunnan Province at 9:49 p.m. on Tuesday, was still fast asleep.

"When it happened, I had been sleeping for half an hour already," said Qiongfen's grieving husband, Dao Wenguang, from Mangla Village of Yongping Town, five kilometers away from the epicenter.

Feeling the tremor, Dao Wenguang and their children soon fled the house. "But I didn't see her, and there was no reply when we called her name," the man said.

Dao Qiongfen was later found under a collapsed wall, unable to breathe and her waist broken.

As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, about 13 hours after the earthquake in Jinggu County, Pu'er, at least one person was dead and 324 others were injured, including eight in critical condition.

A total of 124,600 people from five counties and districts were affected, and some 58,980 people were evacuated. The quake also toppled 6,988 buildings and damaged 13,842 more.

In Mangla Village, where many villagers, like Dao, are of the Dai ethnic minority group, a Xinhua reporter saw cracks on buildings. Some adobe walls had collapsed, and broken bricks and tiles were scattered in the streets.

Villagers spent the night outside, and dozens of tents were pitched.

In nearby Mangfei Village, people gathered on a basketball court. They sat around a bonfire during the cold night.

According to Liu Wei, most of the wounded in his village suffered head and shoulder injuries.

It was the second strong quake to hit the province in a little over two months. A 6.5-magnitude quake with a depth of 12 kilometers struck Ludian County on August 3, killing at least 615 people.

Although the focal depth of Tuesday's quake was relatively shallow at five kilometers and the quake occurred when many were in bed, it appears to have caused fewer casualties than the August quake so far.

Wang Bin, vice head of the Yunnan provincial seismological bureau, said many buildings in the area featured wooden mortise riveting structures, making them relatively quake-proof.

"In Jinggu, nearly 20,000 out of 60,000 rural households have improved the quality of their houses to meet the standard for shock-resistance," said Wang Tianshou, head of the housing and urban-rural development bureau in the county.

The lower intensity of the quake, lower population density in the quake-hit zone, and concentration of residences in flatter, less mountainous areas also led to fewer casualties.

Traffic remained open following the quake.

Rescuers are racing to search for the missing and save the injured.

The provincial health and family planning commission in Yunnan has so far sent eight rescue teams with nearly 900 people to the quake zone. As doctors help in local hospitals, other health experts will work to prevent the spread of disease after the disaster.

Soldiers and armed police officers are delivering relief supplies to the quake zone. The civil affairs department of Yunnan has sent 11,000 tents, 11,000 blankets and 11,000 overcoats to Jinggu.

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