67 Killed, 100,000 Displaced by Yunnan Quakes

Two earthquakes in south-west China have killed at least 67 people (as of 1:02 a.m., local time) and forced more than 100,000 from their homes. Xinhua described the damage and initial relief efforts.

Sixty-seven people have been confirmed dead and 731 others injured after multiple earthquakes struck a mountainous region in southwest China on Friday, authorities said.
[…] Two quakes measuring 5.7 and 5.6 on the Richter scale hit a border area near Yiliang in Yunnan and Weining county in Guizhou province at 11:19 a.m. and 12:16 p.m. Friday, respectively.
[…] Yunnan’s civil affairs department said the quakes destroyed 6,650 houses and damaged 430,000 others. More than 100,000 residents have been evacuated and 100,000 others are in need of relocation.

Wen Jiabao quickly set off to visit the affected area, while Hu Jintao urged immediate relief efforts, Xinhua added.
Although the quakes were of only moderate strength, the area’s mountainous terrain and relative poverty magnified their impact. Landslides increased the destruction and blocked roads, slowing access to remote communities where Xinhua warned that further casualties may yet be discovered. In addition, poorly constructed rural buildings were particularly susceptible to the tremors. From Reuters:

Many structures in the area are built with mud and timber, making them more prone to collapse, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.
“On the other hand, extricating people trapped in these structures may be easier than from under concrete/brick homes, meaning that there could be many more injuries proportionate to the number of deaths,” it said.
In 2008, about 87,600 people were killed in the southwestern province of Sichuan when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit. Many of the victims died in the rubble of homes and schools built without adequate steel reinforcement.

One elementary school reportedly collapsed on Friday, killing three

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