Buildings collapse, residents fume

Panic as quake topples mud and wood houses; taller structures sport large cracks

Buildings collapse, residents fume

The rubble of destroyed houses is seen after an earthquake hit the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu, northwest China's Qinghai province, on  Wednesday. AP

 

The widespread collapse of buildings caused anger and accusations of corruption after the devastating May 2008 earthquake in Sichuan Province, which killed 80,000.
“A lot of one-storey houses have collapsed. Taller buildings have held up, but there are big cracks in them,” said Talen Tashi, a resident.

“Many homes have been damaged, but we’ll have to wait till our staff arrive, to understand anything specific,” said Wang Liling, a volunteer worker for Gesanghua, a Chinese charity.

Rescue efforts

People from the Yushu prefecture highway department were frantically trying to dig out colleagues trapped in a collapsed building, department official Ji Guodong said by telephone.

“The homes are built with thick walls and are strong, but if they collapsed they could hurt many people inside,” said Zhuo De by phone from Xining after contacting his family in Yushu.

“Nearly all the houses made of mud and wood collapsed. There was so much dust in the air, we couldn’t see anything,” said Ren Yu, general manager of Yushu Hotel in Jiegu, the county’s main town. “There was a lot of panic. People were crying on the streets. Some of our staff, who were reunited with their parents, were also in tears.” More than 100 guests of the hotel, which was relatively undamaged, were evacuated to open spaces such as public squares, Ren said. After transporting guests to safety, hotel staff then helped in rescue efforts in other buildings, Ren said.

“We pulled out 70 people, but some of them died on the way to the hospital,” Ren said, adding other survivors were put in tents in the hotel yard while they awaited assistance.
More than 85 per cent of houses had collapsed in Jiegu, which Tibetans call Gyegu, while large cracks have appeared on buildings still standing, the official Xinhua News Agency cited Zhuohuaxia, a local publicity official, as saying.

“The streets in Jiegu are thronged with panic and full of injured people, with many of them bleeding from their injuries,” said Zhuohuaxia, who goes by one name.

Workers were racing to release water from a reservoir in the disaster area where a crack had formed after the quake to prevent a flood, according to the China Earthquake Administration.

CCTV reported that soon after the quake, troops secured banks, oil depots and caches of explosives.

Epicentre

The quake was centred in the mountains that divide Qinghai province from the Tibet Autonomous Region.

The foothills to the south and east of the area are home to herders and Tibetan monasteries of Yushu county, while the area to the north and west is arid and desolate.

The quake was centred 240 km north northwest of Qamdo in Tibet and 375 km south
southeast of the mining town of Golmud in Qinghai, and had a depth of 10 km, the United States Geological Service said.

A magnitude 5.0 quake struck the same region late on Tuesday, and aftershocks of magnitude-6.0 and over rattled the town Wednesday morning, sending fearful residents into the streets.

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