20 killed as quake hits northern Yunnan

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 July, 2006, 12:00am

At least 20 people were killed and more than a hundred injured when an earthquake measuring 5.1 struck northeastern Yunnan yesterday, local government officials and residents said.

The earthquake hit at 9.10am, toppling 1,400 houses and damaging 38,000 others in 13 townships in Yanjin county, a government spokesman said. Daguan and other mountainous counties north of Zhaotong were also affected.

'Yanjin's condition is the most serious in the disaster region, with 17 people killed and about 60 injured,' he said earlier. Most of the deaths occurred in Dousha town, close to the epicentre. The quake disrupted road and rail services and cut off electricity and telecommunications.

Dousha town resident Qin Yan, 30, said her 74-year-old uncle was killed when his head was struck by masonry falling from a ceiling.

'We were so scared because we had no warning,' she said. 'So many houses in our township are broken,' she said, adding that none of Yanjin's residents had eaten anything from the time the quake hit to early last night.

'Our town government told us not to stay indoors because of the risk of aftershocks,' she said. 'They've arranged for us to live in a nearby school and eat 'cauldron rice' tonight.' Local media said that 80 per cent of Yanjin's houses were damaged. A landslide blocked the main road connecting Shuifu county with Kunming.