Deaths re­ported in Sichuan earth­quake

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By HUANG ZHILING in Chengdu and CAO YIN in Bei­jing Xin­hua con­trib­uted to this story. Con­tact the writ­ers at huangzhiling@chi­nadaily.com.cn

A mag­ni­tude-7.0 earth­quake struck Ji­uzhaigou county in Sichuan prov­ince at 9:19 pm on Tues­day, killing at least five peo­ple and leav­ing dozens in­jured, Xin­hua News Agency re­ported.

All of those killed were re­ported to be tourists.

The epi­cen­ter was at a depth of 20 kilo­me­ters in Ji­uzhaigou and the Aba Ti­betan and Qiang au­tonomous re­gions.

Ji­uzhaigou na­tional park is in the area and is a pop­u­lar tourist spot known for spec­tac­u­lar wa­ter­falls and karst for­ma­tions. Each year, mil­lions of tourists visit.

The area has been hit by fre­quent af­ter­shocks.

The China Earth­quake Ad­min­is­tra­tion de­clared the high­est level of the four-tiered emer­gency re­sponse sys­tem for earth­quakes, and dis­patched of­fi­cers to the re­gion to deal with emer­gen­cies.

“Our depart­ments, in­clud­ing the emer­gency and res­cue cen­ters as well as sub-bu­reaus in the prov­inces of Sichuan, Gansu, Qing­hai, Shaanxi and the Ningxia Hui au­tonomous re­gion, have been all stand­ing by and asked re­lated work­ers to be on duty, mon­i­tor­ing af­ter­shocks, col­lect­ing in­for­ma­tion and mak­ing eval­u­a­tions of pos­si­ble dis­as­ters,” the ad­min­is­tra­tion said on its of­fi­cial web­site.

Po­lice in Ji­uzhaigou had reached the epi­cen­ter to main­tain order in the area, said the Armed Po­lice Force’s Sichuan Pro­vin­cial Corp. Other forces around the area also were stand­ing by.

The PLA Daily re­ported the epi­cen­ter is nearly 60 kilo­me­ters from the county’s down­town, and the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in the area were tem­po­rar­ily shut down af­ter the quake.

The prov­ince’s Party chief, Wang Dong­ming, asked all gov­ern­men­tal depart­ments to stand by and dis­patched a work team to lead the res­cue. He said the pri­or­ity is to re­duce any deaths or in­juries and pre­vent post-quake dam­ages.

Sangey, a worker at the pop­u­lar Ji­uzhaigou tourist site, told Xin­hua by phone that some houses in the scenic spot had col­lapsed or had cracks, and au­thor­i­ties were or­ga­niz­ing young peo­ple to help evac- uate res­i­dents.

Li Changy­ong, head of the Ji­uzhaigou county health and fam­ily plan­ning bureau, said the quake was strongly felt in the county seat, 35 km from the epi­cen­ter, and many res­i­dents rushed out­side.

Li told Xin­hua that he saw no build­ing col­lapses in the county seat and had learned of no im­me­di­ate re­ports of deaths or in­juries.

Tre­mors were felt in the pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal of Chengdu and as far away as Xi’an, cap­i­tal of Shaanxi prov­ince, ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports.

A quake in Wenchuan county, Sichuan, on May 12, 2008 killed al­most 70,000 peo­ple.

Hong Kong’s travel groups, stu­dent campers and other vis­i­tors in ar­eas af­fected by the 7.0-mag­ni­tude earth­quake in Ji­uzhaigou, Sichuan prov­ince, “are safe” on Tues­day, ac­cord­ing to rel­e­vant agen­cies.

An Im­mi­gra­tion Depart­ment spokesper­son told China Daily that the depart­ment had not re­ceived any re­quests for as­sis­tance from peo­ple in the area or from those with friends, rel­a­tives and as­soci- ates there.

A spokesper­son from the Hong Thai Travel Ser­vices said that it now had two tour groups, to­tal­ing 40 peo­ple, in Sichuan. Both have fin­ished their tours and left the Ji­uzhaigou val­ley. They are all re­ported to be safe.

Deputy Gen­eral Man­ager of China Travel Ser­vice Ng Heion said the agency cur­rently has no tour groups in the Ji­uzhaigou val­ley. Two groups left the re­sort for Chengdu on Mon­day, Ng added.

From to­day (Wed­nes­day) to the end of the month, the com­pany sched­uled 10 groups, 200 peo­ple in to­tal, to travel from Hong Kong to Ji­uzhaigou.

Ng said the Travel In­dus­try Coun­cil of Hong Kong, the city’s reg­u­la­tor and as­so­ci­a­tion of travel agen­cies, will hold a spe­cial meet­ing to de­cide whether or not to can­cel th­ese trips.

Cur­rently, a group of 15 Hong Kong col­lege stu­dents are in the mid­dle of an in­tern­ship at Wo­long Na­tional Na­ture Re­serve — the main part of Sichuan Gi­ant Panda Sanc­tu­ar­ies.

Ac­cord­ing to a spokesper­son from the Sichuan pro­vin­cial govern­ment’s in­for­ma­tion of­fice, the stu­dents are all safe. They are also rea­son­ably far from the epi­cen­ter of the earth­quake.

Ji­uzhaigou is a na­tional park known for its spec­tac­u­lar wa­ter­falls and karst for­ma­tions. It is vis­ited by mil­lions of peo­ple each year.

YANG JIAN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Armed Po­lice of­fi­cers res­cue vic­tims in Ji­uzhaigou county on Tues­day night.

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