Beijing, April 20 (IANS) At least 56 people were killed and more than 500 others injured Saturday when a massive earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale struck southwest China’s Sichuan province, officials said.
The earthquake hit Lushan county of Ya’an city at 8.02 a.m., Xinhua cited the China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC) as saying.
Many vehicles were damaged by rolling rocks, and several houses along a street in Lushan county collapsed.
Patients were given treatment at the Lushan County Hospital.
Among those injured, 135 are in serious condition, a hospital official said.
The strongest aftershock after the quake was measured at 5.3-magnitude. It jolted the border areas between the counties of Lushan and Tianquan at 11.34 a.m., the provincial seismological bureau said.
About 400 policemen arrived in Lushan to assist in the rescue efforts. More than 1,400 rescuers from the provincial fire-fighting department have also been deployed.
The hardest-hit areas are the townships of Longmen and Qingren, said an official with the provincial armed police corps.
About 200 technicians from China Mobile Limited have been dispatched to the disaster-hit areas to repair the telecom network.
The China Earthquake Administration (CEA) said the quake originated in the Longmenshan fracture zone. A total of 12 earthquakes at 5.0-magnitude or above have occurred in the area within 100 km of its epicentre since 1900, including a devastating 8.0-magnitude quake in Wenchuan in 2008 that left 87,000 people dead or missing.