7.1 Magnitude Earthquake Hits China Hard (Yushu County)

At least 400 people have been killed and more have been injured or trapped in rubble after a series of earthquakes in north-west China.

Officials said more than 10,000 people were injured and six quakes hit Yushu county, Qinghai province.

Army trucks have been sent to the remote area, 480 miles away from the provincial capital, Xining, to aid rescue and relief efforts. Witnesses reported the collapse of many brick and wood buildings, with people scrabbling through the debris to free those trapped inside.

Half the buildings at the Yushu vocational school are said to have collapsed.

Xie Caishu, Qinghai armed police corps captain, told state media more than 600 rescuers from the paramilitary police had arrived in the country, but that there was a shortage of disaster relief gear and equipment.

"The need of relief equipment far exceeds supply, including tents, temporary housing, mobile kitchens, power generators. We have reported it to higher levels, who guarantee that relief supplies will be airlifted to Yushu in hours," Xie said. Power and water supplies have been cut although some early reports suggested larger buildings had stood firm. The population is relatively scattered, making it hard to assess damage.

The China Earthquake Networks Centre put the biggest shock at magnitude 7.1, although the US Geological Survey put it at 6.9. The Haiti quake which killed more than 200,000 and left 1m homeless in January was magnitude 7. The China Earthquake Administration said phone lines were down, hindering rescue efforts, while workers were racing to release water from a cracked reservoir.

In Jiegu, a township near the epicentre, more than 85% of houses collapsed, while large cracks appeared on buildings still standing, the official Xinhua News Agency cited Zhuohuaxia, a local publicity official, as saying.

"The streets in Jiegu are thronged with panic and full of injured people, with many of them bleeding from their injuries," he said. One local official was quoted by the BBC saying: "We have nothing now. The loss is huge."

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