The magnitude 6.8 earthquake registered this Monday in the central province of Sichuan left 74 dead at 9:00 p.m. local time on Tuesday (1:00 p.m. GMT), official media reported today.
There are a total of 26 missing and the number of injured amounts to 259, according to the Xinhua agency.
The latest official count was 65 deaths recorded as of 7 a.m. local time Tuesday (2300 GMT Monday).
Among the deceased, 40 were recorded in the Ganzi prefecture, where the epicenter of the earthquake was located, and 34 in the municipal area of the city of Ya’an.
This Tuesday, 50,000 people in the area had been evacuated.
According to the China Earthquake Networks Center, the earthquake occurred at 12:52 p.m. local time (04:52 GMT) on Monday at a depth of 16 kilometers and had its epicenter in Luding county, Ganzi prefecture, located about 200 kilometers from the provincial capital, Chengdu, with more than 20 million inhabitants.
According to the scale used by local seismological authorities, an earthquake of magnitude 6 means that most of the affected people cannot stand stably during the earthquake and cracks in the walls and the fall of tiles and chimneys can occur.
Until the local morning of Tuesday, ten aftershocks of a magnitude equal to or greater than 3 had been registered, one of which reached 4.2, the authorities reported.
This is the most intense earthquake since 2017 in Sichuan province, which is located in an area with frequent seismic activity and was already the scene of a catastrophic earthquake in May 2008, with a magnitude of 8 degrees and which left more than 90,000 dead and missing.
Local seismologists quoted by the Global Times newspaper explained that the epicenter, located in Luding County, and the surrounding regions must prepare for possible “secondary disasters” such as landslides as a result of the tremor in the coming days or even years.
China has mobilized more than 6,500 members of rescue forces, including soldiers, firefighters and medics, and nine helicopters to help rescue efforts.
Likewise, the China National Space Administration activated a civil emergency response mechanism and arranged for ten satellites to take images of the areas hardest hit by the earthquake to provide more information to the rescue forces, local media reported.
Authorities reported that the quake and its aftershocks had damaged some roads, making it difficult for rescuers to access some of the worst-hit areas.
The Chinese Ministries of Finance and Emergency Management allocated 50 million yuan (7.25 million dollars, 7.29 million euros) to support rescue and relief efforts.
Sichuan has suffered in the last five years 455 earthquakes of a magnitude equal to or greater than 3 and five earthquakes of magnitude 6, the same as the earthquake that occurred on Monday.