30 die after two strong earthquakes hit Tibet

Temblor measures 6.6; second quake follows 15 minutes later; Lhasa's famous landmarks remain undamaged.

October 6, 2008 16:08
1 minute read.
30 die after two strong earthquakes hit Tibet

china quake 224.88. (photo credit: AP [file])

A pair of earthquakes jolted Lhasa, the capital of Chinese-ruled Tibet, and surrounding areas Monday, causing houses to collapse and killing 30 people, the official Xinhua News Agency said. The US Geological Survey said the first quake measured magnitude 6.6 and struck at 4:30 p.m. 80 kilometers west of Lhasa, more than 2,600 kilometers away from Beijing. The second temblor measuring magnitude 5.1 hit about 15 minutes later, about 96 kilometers west of the Tibetan capital, it said. China's State Seismological Bureau said the initial temblor was centered in Dangxiong county, which has a population of about 42,000 people, mostly herdsmen. "I felt the building shaking a little bit and saw a bench overturn," said Ge San, an employee at the Baima Hotel in Dangxiong, who was sitting in a room with about five other employees. "The shaking was not heavy. We stayed in the room and were not frightened," she said, adding that all the hotel's guests remained on the premises. In Lhasa, employees at the Civil Affairs Bureau rushed out of their building when the tremors began but returned soon after, said an official who refused to give her name. "I was in my office on the third floor," she said. "The shaking lasted for about half a minute." Xinhua said that so far, none of the city's landmarks, such as the famed Potala Palace, appeared to be damaged. One of the agency's reporters in Lhasa said shops remained open and there was no panic on the streets. Authorities said seismologists and officials had been sent to the area and were assessing the situation. China's far west is fairly earthquake prone. On Sunday, a magnitude-5.7 earthquake shook the Xinjiang region, which borders Tibet, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, which also suffered a 6.6-magnitude quake hours later. At least 60 people were killed when a village collapsed. Tibet, a remote, sparsely populated region, has been hit by several moderate earthquakes in recent weeks. Last month, a magnitude 6 quake struck near its border with Nepal but there were no reports of damage or casualties. In late August, the USGS reported that an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.7 hit the region. Chinese state media said schools, a hydropower station and 622 homes were damaged and about 2,000 people forced to seek temporary shelter. A 7.9 magnitude earthquake on May 12 devastated a swathe of Sichuan province, just east of Tibet, killing 70,000 people and leaving 5 million homeless.

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