Jiuzhaigou earthquake death toll rises to 24

Rescue workers walk past a collapsed area after an earthquake in Jiuzhaigou county, Ngawa prefecture, Sichuan province, China on Aug 9, 2017.
Rescue workers walk past a collapsed area after an earthquake in Jiuzhaigou county, Ngawa prefecture, Sichuan province, China on Aug 9, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - The death toll from an earthquake that scarred a scenic region of southwest China's Sichuan province rose to 24, with five still missing, by Friday (Aug 11) night as authorities found more bodies.

A total of 493 were injured, including 45 in serious condition, the quake rescue headquarters said in the latest casualties update according to Xinhua news agency.

More than 61,500 tourists and migrant workers, including 126 foreigners, were evacuated following the magnitude 7.0 quake, which struck Jiuzhaigou County at 9:19pm on Tuesday at a depth of 20 kilometers.  Some 23,500 local residents have been evacuated to safety. 

The Aba prefecture emergency response office said in a statement on Friday that three more bodies were found inside a bus in a river valley in Zhangzha. It did not give more details about what had happened to the vehicle.

More than 70,000 people have been evacuated from quake-hit towns and villages in and around Jiuzhaigou, a popular tourist destination with a national park, forested mountains and over 140 lakes that has been recognised as a Unesco World Heritage site.

The tremor evoked memories of a devastating 8.0-magnitude earthquake in the region in 2008 that left 87,000 people dead or missing.