Sunday, June 23, 2024

Last body found after China’s worst earthquake in a decade

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BEIJING (Reuters) – The bodies of two more people missing in China’s most severe earthquake in nearly a decade were found on Sunday, a tragedy that has left many affected by the earthquake-prone region. There are renewed concerns about residents who

This brings the official death toll from the magnitude 6.2 earthquake that shook Qinghai and northwestern Gansu provinces almost two weeks ago to 151. The last body was found in Qinghai province at 1:16 a.m. (Saturday 17:16 Japan time), state media reported.

The quake, with its epicenter in Qinghai and Gansu provinces, was China’s deadliest since 2014, when a magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck southwestern Yunnan province, killing 617 people.

The tragedy in disaster-stricken Qinghai and Gansu provinces, home to large numbers of Hui ethnic groups, a close-knit ethnic group characterized by Muslim identity, has renewed concerns about outdated and shoddy housing.

Many of the destroyed homes were earthen or brick-wood structures. Local authorities say the load-bearing walls are made of earth and have little protection against earthquakes.

Gansu, Qinghai, Tibet, Xinjiang, and the rugged highlands of Sichuan and Yunnan lie on the fringes of the geologically complex Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Many of the inhabitants who live near the edge of the plateau, often on active fault lines, are rural farmers and nomads who live on very low incomes.

Han Ting, 33, whose village in Gansu Province was on the verge of being destroyed by an earthquake, decided to stay in an emergency tent set up by rescue workers, fearing that his partially destroyed family home would collapse.

“The prefabricated housing allotted to us is also a little far away, so we still decided to stay here in tents,” said Han, one of the thousands of Hui people living in the area.

“So far, the cold has not been too severe, there are no shortages of daily necessities, and children have resumed school.”

Even as Han’s life began to resume, she couldn’t help but think about her grandfather. Her grandfather survived the initial shock of the earthquake, but died a few days later.

“On the night of the earthquake, he ran out of the house with only a blanket wrapped around him and hid in a small car,” he told Reuters.

Local authorities built thousands of one-story prefabricated homes in less than two weeks to help affected families transition from tents as winter progresses. The earthquake caused the evacuation of 145,000 people and destroyed more than 200,000 homes.

“Our village was one of the hardest hit,” Han said.

“The government has said that destroyed houses will be rebuilt and damaged houses repaired, but we do not know exactly when that will be.”

(Reporting by Ryan Woo; Additional reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.

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