Sichuan earthquake, 10 years on

Four foreigners among 247 people hurt in Sichuan quake, Frenchman requires surgery

Canadian woman and two South Koreans also need medical attention, but no reports of fatalities among foreign nationals

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 August, 2017, 7:44pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 August, 2017, 10:27am

Four foreigners are known to have been injured in the magnitude 7 earthquake that hit southwestern China on Tuesday night, including a Frenchman who will require surgery to treat wounds to his legs.

At least 19 people were killed and 247 were hurt in the tremor that struck near the mountainous Jiuzhaigou county in Sichuan province – a popular tourist destination – about 9.19pm on Tuesday. All of the people killed are believed to be Chinese.

Of the foreigners hurt, just one has been identified, as 18-year old Frenchman Maxence Vallon. He is currently being treated for injuries to his legs at Jiuzhaigou County People’s Hospital, Xinhua reported.

Nineteen dead, 247 injured as magnitude 7 quake rattles Sichuan

Vallon’s brother Romain, who is studying in Beijing, was quoted as saying that his brother would have to undergo surgery to remove stone fragments that had been embedded in his legs. Doctors said the operation was necessary to prevent infection, he said.

“Things were very hectic here. But it’s getting better,” Romain Vallon told the Post yesterday.

He said that he and his brother had been staying with their mother at a hotel in Jiuzhaigou at the time of the quake, adding that he had informed the French consulate of their situation.

Another of the people injured is a Canadian woman who is being treated at the same hospital as Vallon. No other information about her has been released.

The only other reports of injuries among foreign nationals came from South Korea’s foreign ministry, which said that two of its citizens suffered slight injures while trying to flee the earthquake. It did not release any further details.

The US consulate in Chengdu, meanwhile, said it was not aware of any American citizens being injured or killed, while the British foreign ministry said that no British nationals had been affected.

Japan’s consulate general in Chongqing said that 30 Japanese tourists had been stranded in Jiuzhaigou due to the earthquake, but that none of them had been hurt.

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The tourists were travelling as a group with a local travel agency, Japanese media reported separately.

China News Service reported earlier that at least six tourists were killed in the earthquake. It did not identify them, but said that the majority of the people in the area at the time were Chinese.

The Jiuzhaigou government said tourists and residents were gradually being evacuated from the area.

British tourist Isabella Beatrix told the Post that she and her fiancé Sam Cook were staying at an inn about 10 minutes from the Jiuzhai Valley National Park – which has been closed due to the earthquake – when the tremor struck.

The couple escaped unhurt, but it was a “very scary experience”, she said.

“[There were] very strong tremors and the whole foundation and building swayed pretty violently,” Beatrix said. “All the electricity then cut out so it was pitch black.”

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Cook, who speaks Mandarin, heard people shouting for everyone to get out of the building, so they grabbed their passports and ran outside, she said. The floor of the hotel lobby was covered in broken beer bottles, she said.

Beatrix said that although the main quake didn’t happen until Tuesday night, there had been “big tremors and sirens” as early as that morning.

She and Cook tried to leave for Xian, capital of Shaanxi province, but couldn’t get out because the roads were closed to everyone but army and government vehicles, she said.

The government sent in buses on Wednesday morning to transfer people out of the area, Beatrix said, adding that and the situation was “still bad” about 10.30am, with rocks falling onto the road.

Desperate to get out of the area, she and Cook jumped on the first bus they could, which took them to a nearby town, the name of which escaped her, and on Wednesday evening they caught another bus to Chengdu.

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“We’d been told we’d likely be sleeping outside together in the big square until the roads were cleared,” Beatrix said. It was “crazy lucky” [getting a place on the bus], she said.

Another English national, Gary Lawrence, said he had been on the 18th floor of a building with his girlfriend when they began to feel the vibrations from the aftershocks of the earthquake.

“The lights on our ceiling [were] swaying, [and so] was the room itself,” said the Londoner who now lives in the nearby city of Chengdu.

“My girlfriend was a bit shocked,” he said.