Earthquake in China leaves at least 126 dead, hundreds injured


A strong earthquake hit a mountainous region of northwest China overnight, authorities said Tuesday. The most powerful quake to hit China in nine years killed at least 126 people and left many others out in the freezing night air as it destroyed homes.

The magnitude 6.2 temblor struck just before midnight and left more than 700 people injured. Roads in the provinces were damaged and power and communication lines cut, according to local officials cited by Chinese media.

“I just feel anxious, what other feelings could there be?” resident Ma Dongdong told The Associated Press over the phone. He said three bedrooms in his house along with his tea shop were destroyed by the quake.

Residents warm themselves around a fire after an earthquake in Jishishan County, in northwest China’s Gansu province, Dec. 19, 2023.


Ma told the AP he spent the rest of the bitter cold night in a field with his wife, two children and neighbors, with nowhere else to go and fearing aftershocks. In the morning they headed for a tent settlement where Ma said about 700 people were seeking shelter. He said they were still waiting for blankets and warm clothing to arrive by Monday afternoon.

Security video from inside a Gansu restaurant shows diners enjoying their meals until, at one minute to midnight, the quake struck. Customers and staff ran for their lives.

Rescue workers combed through the wreckage of collapsed buildings through the night, pulling those they could reach to safety and handing out coats and blankets to survivors stranded in the bitter cold.

In the poor, rural area of northwest China, many buildings collapsed completely, killing or injuring people as they slept inside.

A man walks past a collapsed building after an earthquake in Dahejia, Jishishan County in northwest China’s Gansu province, Dec. 19, 2023.


China mobilized its military to aid in the disaster response and soldiers joined the search for survivors on Tuesday, helping also to clear rubble and hand out tents and food, while heavy equipment was brought in to clear mudslides triggered by the quake.

It was the deadliest earthquake in China since 2014, when a magnitude 6.1 temblor hit the southern Yunnan province, killing about 600 people.

As rescue and cleanup operations continued in Gansu, the number of dead and injured was expected to rise.

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