More than 50,000 people have been relocated to safer locations after buildings were damaged by a powerful 6.8-magnitude earthquake that jolted Luding County in China's Sichuan province, which has claimed the lives of 46 people so far.
As of Monday, 5 September, 16 people had been reported missing and more than 50 injured, as per the deputy director of the Sichuan provincial emergency management department, Wang Feng.
Among the deceased, 29 were from Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and the remaining 17 from Ya'an City, news agency PTI reported.
The Earthquake and Its Impact
The earthquake jolted Luding County at 12:52 pm (Beijing time) on Monday, as per the China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC).
Authorities in Sichuan activated the highest level of emergency response for the quake.
As of Monday evening, authorities had deployed more than 6,500 personnel, four helicopters, and two unmanned aerial vehicles to assist in the rescue operations.
"There were many aftershocks, and some roads were blocked. We had to climb over the debris to get to the town square of Moxi," one of the personnel from the provincial forest fire brigade was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.
Houses and infrastructure were also damaged and some roads collapsed owing to the earthquake's impact.
Meanwhile, electricity supply and communications were completely cut off from Moxi town, and emergency power-generation equipment were being used to provide electricity for residents taking shelter.
A local official named Liu Fang said that she and her colleagues immediately evacuated the residents to the square several metres away in the aftermath of the quake.
A special police rescue team had also rescued over 30 people who were trapped.
The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Emergency Management have announced 50 million yuan (around $7.25 million) to support the rescue and relief operations.
Relief supplies, including around 3,000 tents and 10,000 folding beds, were also provided to Luding County, the epicentre of the disaster.
Sichuan: Earthquake Prone, Rising COVID-19 Cases, Draughts and Heatwaves
The Sichuan province is located adjacent to Tibet. The Tibetan plateau is known to be prone to severe earthquakes as it is located right over the place where the tectonic Eurasian and Indian plates meet, and often collide with massive force.
An 8.2-magnitude earthquake struck the province in 2008, killing over 69,000 people. In 2013, a 7-magnitude earthquake claimed the lives of 200 people.
Monday's earthquake struck as the province is still grappling with rising COVID-19 cases.
Chengdu had been under a snap lockdown over rising infections. Only one person per household was permitted to step out to buy daily necessities.
Over 1,000 cases have been reported since mid-August in Chengdu alone, which has a population of 21 million people.
The province is also reeling under an unprecedented drought and heatwaves, with farmlands left dry due to no rainfall over the last month and inadequate irrigation supplies.
(With inputs from PTI.)