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Expert warns larger quake may occur

2014-10-09 08:43 Global Times Web Editor: Qian Ruisha

Smaller population, house design, dense vegetation mitigate casualties

The trio of earthquakes that have occurred in Yunnan Province this year may indicate that a larger earthquake may strike as the seismic zone in Southwest China becomes increasingly active, an expert has said.  [Special coverage]

A 6.6-magnitude earthquake in Jinggu county, Southwest China's Yunnan Province has killed one person and injured 324 people, said the local government on Wednesday. The earthquake is the third quake with a magnitude greater than 6.0 this year in Yunnan.

A total of 124,600 people in Jinggu and four nearby districts and counties were affected and 59,000 people were evacuated. There are a total of 310,000 residents in Jinggu county, said the Yunnan's civil affairs department.

The quake also severely damaged 61,524 buildings, 6,507 of which were destroyed.

The quake hit at 9:49 pm on Tuesday at a depth of five kilometers below the epicenter in Jinggu county, which is under the administration of the city of Pu'er.

According to preliminary investigations, the quake has resulted in economic losses of more than 1.7 billion yuan ($277 million) to Pu'er.

Communication services have been restored as of Wednesday. Water, power and transportation infrastructure have all been undergoing emergency repairs, according to a statement from Jinggu county's publicity department.

Both President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang called on local governments to spare no effort in rescuing victims.

This earthquake follows a 6.5-magnitude earthquake which hit Ludian county in Yunnan Province on August 3. The earthquake killed more than 600 people and destroyed 80,000 homes.

Compared with the quake in Ludian, this quake caused less property damage and fewer casualties.

Sun Shihong, a research fellow at the China Earthquake Networks Center, told the Global Times on Wednesday that "although earthquakes are more frequent in the area of Pu'er, they seldom cause severe damage since buildings in that area are of a special wooden design, which possesses a strong anti-seismic capability."

"Moreover, since the focus of this quake is shallow, it affected a relatively smaller region. Besides, this region has a small population, which helps to prevent large numbers of casualties and injuries," said Sun.

Sun added that the high level of vegetation coverage in Pu'er helped reduce after-quake geological disasters such as landslides.

A 6.1-magnititue earthquake occurred in Yingjiang county on May 30, injuring 43 people and forcing the evacuation of another 35,000, reported Xinhua.

"After 18 years of inactivity, Yunnan, located in a seismic zone, has entered a new active phase. These three earthquakes may indicate that a bigger quake is going to occur," said Sun.

Sun stressed that "local government should focus on increasing infrastructure construction in rural areas including communication systems, electricity infrastructure and water conservancy systems."

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