This photo shows the aftermath of a 6.6-magnitude earthquake in Hailuogou, Sichuan, China, on Monday. AFP
The death toll from a strong earthquake that struck southwest China has risen to 74, state media reported on Wednesday, as thousands were evacuated into temporary shelters and heavy rains threatened to cause more landslides.
The magnitude 6.6 quake hit about 43 kilometres (26 miles) southeast of the city of Kangding in Sichuan province at a depth of 10 kilometres on Monday, according to the US Geological Survey.
The state-run People's Daily said that 34 people died in Sichuan's Ya'an city, while 40 deaths were reported in neighbouring Ganzi prefecture.
More than 21,000 people have been evacuated from areas prone to landslides or building collapse, state broadcaster CCTV said.
Rescuers are still scouring remote villages in the country's mountainous southwest in a race to find survivors of the earthquake, with dozens of people believed stranded or missing.
"My head was stuck between the two columns, and my legs were sandwiched between the tables," one woman who was trapped for nearly five hours under a collapsed hotel in the town of Moxi, one of the worst-affected areas, told state-run Red Star News.
"I could only lie in one position, resigned to my fate. I don't know who saved me," she added, saying she had worried for her children and whether their school building had collapsed.
Rescue workers carry an injured victim on a stretcher following an earthquake in Qinggangping, Sichuan, China. Reuters
Dramatic footage aired by state broadcaster CCTV showed kindergarten teachers waking up napping children and rushing them out when the quake hit.
The quake also rocked buildings in the provincial capital of Chengdu — where millions are confined to their homes under a strict Covid-19 lockdown — and in the nearby megacity of Chongqing, residents told the media.
At least 13 aftershocks of magnitude 3.0 and above had been detected as of 7 am local time (2300 GMT) on Tuesday, the China Earthquake Networks Center said.
The provincial grid operator yesterday said power had been restored to over 22,000 households and that 12 emergency shelters in Ya'an were connected to a temporary power supply after the quake knocked out electricity across swathes of countryside.
Beijing's cabinet on Monday said it had dispatched a special team to lead the efforts, with CCTV reporting more than 6,500 people had been sent as part of the emergency rescue response.
But the China Meteorological Administration warned that quake-stricken areas would experience "significant rainfall" until Thursday and that landslides could hamper rescue work.
At least 16 other people are missing a day after the 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck a mountainous area in Luding county in Sichuan province, which sits on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau where tectonic plates meet and is hit regularly by quakes.
The US Geological Survey said the epicentre of the quake — which hit at 9:48 pm (1348 GMT) at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometres (six miles) — was near the city of Dali, a popular tourist destination.
Earthquakes are common in the southwestern province of Sichuan, especially in its mountains in the west, a tectonically active area along the eastern boundary of the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau.
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