Jiuzhaigou earthquake in China forces evacuation of tens of thousands

Kirsty Needham

A second earthquake, measuring 6.6 magnitude, has been felt in China’s western Xinjiang province, hours after a large 7 magnitude earthquake left at least nine people dead in a popular tourist area of Sichuan province.

It is the peak of the summer school holiday tourist season in China, and images of tens of thousands of tourists being evacuated in Jiuzhaigou County, in Sichuan, have dominated news bulletins.

The China Earthquake Networks Centre said 12 people had died with 175 injured and 28 seriously injured.

Five of the twelve people confirmed dead are tourists, according to local media.

The South China Morning Post reported that three Hong Kong tourists are missing.

The Jiuzhaigou earthquake struck at 9.19pm on Tuesday, blocking roads into the mountainous national park area and cutting communication lines.

Around 31,500 tourists were evacuated from hotels and into open space and parking lots as 10 aftershocks continued through the night.

Rescuers spent five hours clearing boulders that had blocked roads into the area.

Rescuers had to walk 15 kilometres to reach a hotel, and 50 kilometres to reach the worst hit lake.

Local authorities said there had been no tourists inside the Jiuzhaigou scenic area when the earthquake hit, and most had been in hotels.

Around 1200 firefighters and sniffer dogs are working at the scene.

Chinese television reporters at the scene said there was an urgent need for canned food and medical equipment.

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