Earthquake in central China kills 15

Over 450 injured in two provinces; hundreds of buildings destroyed, thousands damaged.

quake 88 (photo credit: )
quake 88
(photo credit: )
Zhang Xuping and his family dashed out of their home as soon as they felt the ground shaking. Minutes later, their neighbor was killed and buildings near them collapsed as a strong earthquake rolled through their village in central China. "I felt very strong shocks, lasting about six to seven seconds," Zhang said in a telephone interview on Sunday, one day after the temblor stuck, killing 15 people and injuring more than 450 others in two provinces. "We fled immediately." The official Xinhua News Agency said the magnitude-5.7 quake was centered in Ruichang city in Jiangxi province, near the border with Hubei province. The US Geological Survey reported the quake had a magnitude of 5.5. There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy. Most of the damage occurred in Ruichang and in the popular resort town of Jiujiang, it said. At least 14 people were killed and another 377 others were injured, Xinhua said. In Hubei, one person died and 81 were injured, including 78 students who were caught in a stampede during an evacuation, Xinhua said. Hundreds of buildings were destroyed and thousands damaged, the agency said. Zhang, 42, said his home in a village near Ruichang had cracks running down the walls. Authorities told villagers not to stay indoors on Saturday but had not provided any more information or assistance since, he said. "We cut wood to build shelters," Zhang said. "All of the people in the village stayed outdoors last night." He said his neighbor was repairing the roof of his three-story home when the quake struck. The man fell and died of head injuries in the hospital, he said. The weather Sunday was sunny and not too cold, Zhang said. Weather reports put the temperatures in the region at around 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit). State television on Saturday showed rows of crumbled brick buildings and deep cracks in the walls of buildings still standing in Ruichang. The newscast also showed a young boy with his head heavily bandaged and a man crying on a bench as he cradled an injured leg. An old man and his injured wife shared a cot at a makeshift medical center set up in the street. Many people in Ruichang, which has a population of about 420,000, were staying outside fearing more aftershocks, Xinhua said adding that 1,000 tents were being sent to the area. Work teams have been set up to help with medical needs, supplies and coordination on relief efforts, Xinhua said Sunday, citing Cao Junliang, an official from Jiujiang. So far, water, power and gas supplies were normal, he said.