Sichuan residents return home, two days after 6.1 quake hit

A resident inside a tent following an earthquake in Sichuan, China, on June 1, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS
Rescue workers transfer supplies near tents set up for people displaced after the earthquake. PHOTO: AFP

CHENGDU (XINHUA) - People affected by an earthquake that on Wednesday (June 1) rattled the city of Ya'an in southwest China's Sichuan Province have begun to return to their homes following rescue efforts.

Four people have been confirmed dead and 41 others injured after a 6.1-magnitude earthquake jolted Lushan County in Ya'an at 5pm on Wednesday.

The earthquake was followed by a 4.5-magnitude quake at 5.03pm in Baoxing County, also in Ya'an.

Those injured have been taken to hospital for treatment. One is in critical condition, two who were seriously injured are now in stable conditions, and the 38 who suffered minor injuries are in no immediate danger.

A total of 13,081 people in the city have been affected by the earthquake, the relief headquarters said. Three county highways, a section of a national highway, and telecommunication in some parts of the affected areas were cut off. A total of 135 houses were severely damaged.

By Thursday afternoon, power supply was restored for more than 48,000 households. Emergency power supplies have been made available to two earthquake relief headquarters in the counties of Lushan and Baoxing, 29 temporary relocation sites for residents, and more than 500 tents temporarily housing affected residents.

"I was picking tea leaves on the mountain when I felt the tremor. I would have fallen down if I hadn't grasped the tree," said Ms Yang Jinmei, a resident of Shengli Village, Lushan County.

Ms Yang's husband and two children are working or studying outside of the village. The 51-year-old was quickly sent to a safe site, guided by village officials after the earthquake.

Ya'an's deputy mayor Gong Bing said that more than 12,700 residents have been relocated to 61 sites that were urgently set up in the counties of Lushan and Baoxing on Wednesday night.

"We have sent 400 tents, 2,000 quilts and 400 tent lights to the earthquake-struck areas. Grain, oil, vegetables, clothing, medicines and other materials have been transported to those sites to ensure the supply of basic living materials," the deputy mayor said.

More than 4,600 people from emergency rescue teams, the armed police, the fire department, the medical sector and other areas have been dispatched to the earthquake-struck areas to search for and rescue people who have been injured, and to repair roads and relocate affected residents.

Recuers check houses damaged in the earthquake in China's southwestern Sichuan province on June 2, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

As the annual national college entrance examination known as the "gaokao" will take place in just a few days, local high school seniors are preparing with the help of teachers in temporary classrooms despite the impact of the earthquake.

"We will spare no effort to ensure students are able to take the national college entrance examination and high school entrance examination safely and in an orderly manner," the deputy mayor said.

Meanwhile, an expert said better quality buildings have helped to prevent a bigger casualty number.

"The improvement of the quality of buildings after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Lushan in 2013 was the most important reason why there was not a large number of casualties caused by collapsed buildings this time," said Dr Wang Tun, director of the Institute of Care-Life, an organisation that studies earthquakes in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, and local emergency management authorities.

"Timely earthquake monitoring and early warnings, strict anti-seismic design standards, sufficient drills and publicity, and rapid emergency rescue mechanisms were also reasons why no heavy casualties were reported after the recent powerful earthquakes in Sichuan," Dr Wang added.

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