Beijing, Sep 7 (EFE).- The 6.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the central Chinese province of Sichuan has claimed at least 74 lives, state media reported Wednesday.
Twenty six people are missing and 259 have been injured, state-run agency Xinhua reported.
Forty deaths were recorded in Sichuan’s Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, where the epicenter of the earthquake was located, and 34 in Ya’an city.
By Tuesday, 50,000 people had been evacuated from the area.
The earthquake occurred at 12:52 pm on Monday at a depth of 16 kilometers and had its epicenter in Luding County in Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, about 200 kilometers from the provincial capital Chengdu, more than 20 million inhabitants, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center.
This is the strongest earthquake to hit Sichuan province since 2017.
Seismic activity is common in the province, which in 2008 was the scene of a magnitude 8 earthquake that left nearly 90,000 people dead or missing.
Local seismologists quoted by the state-run Global Times newspaper warned of a “very high” hidden risk of secondary disasters in Luding County and the surrounding regions, including mudslides and landslides, in the coming days or years.
China has mobilized more than 6,500 members of rescue forces, including soldiers, firefighters and medics, as well as nine helicopters to assist rescue efforts.
The China National Space Administration has also activated the civil and commercial satellite emergency response mechanism and tasked 10 satellites to take images of the quake-hit areas to provide more information to the rescue forces, according to Global Times.
Authorities said the quake and its aftershocks had damaged some roads, making it difficult for rescue teams to access some of the worst-hit areas.
The Chinese ministries of finance and emergency management allocated RMB 50 million ($ 7.25 million) toward rescue and relief operations.
In the last five years, Sichuan has been hit by five earthquakes of magnitude 6. EFE