In Xin­jiang, new houses ‘saved lives’ Im­proved struc­tures stood up to strain as quake rat­tled re­gion on Wed­nes­day

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By CUI JIA and MAO WEIHUA in Urumqi

Earth­quake-proof hous­ing projects in the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion — es­pe­cially in its ru­ral ar­eas — have sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced ca­su­al­ties dur­ing re­cent earth­quakes in the quake-prone re­gion, a dis­as­ter relief ex­pert said.

“Most of the houses that col­lapsed in re­cent earth­quakes were old adobe houses. The ma­sonry-con­crete earth­quake-proof houses have proved strong enough to sur­vive earth­quakes,” said Han Lingge, deputy di­rec­tor of earth­quake pre­ven­tion de­part­ment of the Xin­jiang Seis­mo­log­i­cal Bureau in Urumqi, the re­gional cap­i­tal, af­ter a mag­ni­tude-6.6 earth­quake struck Xin­jiang on Wed­nes­day.

The China Earth­quake Net­works Cen­ter said the tem­blor oc­curred at 7:27 am in Jinghe county, in the Bor­tala Mon­go­lian au­ton­o­mous pre­fec­ture, at a depth of 11 kilo­me­ters.

As of 1 pm, about 120 af­ter­shocks had been recorded.

Thirty-two peo­ple were in­jured and 142 homes col­lapsed in Jinghe, the re­gional gov­ern­ment said on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon. Two of the in­jured are in crit­i­cal con­di­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to re­ports from the epi­cen­ter, many of the in­jured were still liv­ing in old houses and wait­ing to move into earth­quake-proof ones. The new houses re­mained stand­ing dur­ing the earth­quake, Han said.

“Many ca­su­al­ties dur­ing earth­quakes are caused by col­lapsed build­ings, so the earth­quake-proof houses have in­deed saved many lives,” she said.

Ini­ti­ated and funded by the cen­tral and re­gional gov­ern­ments, Xin­jiang be­gan to in­tro­duce earth­quake-proof hous­ing projects around the re­gion, with spe­cial fo­cus on ru­ral ar­eas, in 2003.

Although the epi­cen­ter was about 383 km from Urumqi, many peo­ple in the city felt its power.

Peo­ple in the Ily Kazak au­ton­o­mous pre­fec­ture, which bor­ders Bor­tala, also felt strong tremors.

“The house was shak­ing for at least 30 sec­onds. I could hear a roar­ing sound com­ing out of the earth,” said Zhao Xiao of Ily city. The re­gional gov­ern­ment said about 600 houses and live­stock sheds were dam­aged in Ily.

Peo­ple in Urumqi, Kara­may, Shi­hezi and Chang ji in Xin­jiang also re­ported feel­ing the earth­quake.

Con­tact the writ­ers at cui­jia@chi­

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