By Patrick Lozada
Hundreds may have been killed or injured, according to Chinese state media, after an earthquake struck rural Sichuan Province at 8:02 am Beijing time.
The 6.9 magnitude earthquake was centered west of the town of Linqiong, but was felt in bigger cities like Chengdu, 115 kilometers away. Kelsey Broderick, an English Teacher in Chengdu, told Shanghaiist:
“I woke up this morning in Chengdu to my apartment building shaking, but it only lasted for two minutes- nothing too violent, and outside the window life went on as usual afterwards.”
For many in Sichuan, the quake brings up memories of the Wenchuan earthquake of 2008, which killed nearly 90,000 people and left many more without homes.
Information is still spotty at the moment, with 12 definitely confirmed dead by Xinhua (4.20 11am). Meanwhile, CCTV confirms that the quake has killed 30 and inured at least 400. Other sources paint a different, still developing picture. The Sichuan Earthquake Bureau put out an official statement saying that “The earthquake in Ya’an, Lushan, has injured or killed hundreds of people.”
Update 13:24 CST
Xinhua reports that death toll from quake has risen to 46.
Additionally, CCTV reports that at least one kindergarten has collapsed in Lushan. Kindergarten collapses were a major source of controversy in the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake.
Lastly, NPR’s Louisa Lim reports that Premier Li Keqiang will be flying to the Ya’an region of Sichuan to survey the damage, following a pattern of Chinese-Premiers-looking-at-things set by Web Jiabao’s 2008 disaster tour.
Update 14:19 CST
Xinhua confirms that Premier Li Keqiang is headed to Sichuan and that the death count is now at 56. They also tweeted the following aerial photo of the destruction:
Update 16:49 CST
Death toll at 76. This week sucks.
Update 17:42 CST
The death toll has risen to 113, according to China News Agency. More than 6,000 men from the People’s Liberation Army and the military police have already been deployed to the frontlines. This includes 2,600 men from the Chengdu PLA and 3,500 from the military police, An additional 10,000 soldiers and military policemen are on standby, ready to be deployed whenever the need arises. Train services around Huaian have already resumed operations.
Update 00:17 CST
Death toll has risen to 157, with 5,700 injured, according to Reuters. The agency reports that most deaths are concentrated in the Lushan area. Li Keqiang has arrived at the disaster zone and said, “Under the strong leadership of the party and the government, as long as we unite as one, and conduct the rescue in a scientific way, then there will be the conditions and the ability to minimize the losses to the greatest degree and to overcome the disaster.”
If you use this time to spout pro-party lines and “scientific development theory” rhetoric, you should not be given a microphone.
Update 10:00 CST
Xinhua reports that the death toll has risen to 164 over night, and that there have been 1,097 aftershocks that have plagued the region since the official quake. The rise in the death toll seems smaller than it could have been, giving some hope that we will see fewer dramatic increases over the next twenty four hours.
Update 19:07 CST