Los Angeles Times
A strong earthquake struck China’s mountainous Sichuan province Saturday morning, leaving at least 179 people dead and more than 6,700 injured.
Chinese authorities assessed the magnitude of the quake at 7.0, while the U.S. Geological Survey reported 6.6.
Although nowhere near as powerful in magnitude, the tremor evoked memories of the great earthquake almost exactly five years ago along the same fault line that killed almost 90,000.
The earthquake’s epicenter was about 80 miles southwest of the provincial capital of Chengdu, in Lushan county near the city of Ya’an. The city of 1.5 million is best known for its panda-breeding research center, which was reported not to have sustained serious damage.
“Comparatively speaking, the scale of the disaster is not as extensive as in 2008, although there are still multiple locations affected,” said Meimei Leung, emergency response director for World Vision’s China office.
Leung said the experiences of 2008 left people and government better prepared.
“This time, people knew what to do. As soon as the tremors started, they went out into open areas. The government also is working in a well-organized manner. They very quickly put together an emergency-response plan that took them a couple of days in 2008,” she said.
The quake at 8 a.m. jolted residents out of bed, and people ran into the streets wearing their pajamas, according to reports from the scene.
“We were very calm. We have gained experience from the last earthquake. It took us 30 seconds to leave everything and run,” one middle-aged man told Chinese media.
Officials warned of aftershocks and secondary disasters such as landslides, road and cave collapses, especially since a light rain was falling over the mountainous area Saturday.
Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.