Witnesses recall moment earthquake shakes SW China

Xinhua
On Tuesday, the residents and tourists in a remote area in southwest China's Sichuan Province were shaken by a powerful earthquake.
Xinhua
Xinhua

A tourist bus is smashed by fallen rocks in Jiuzhaigou County today. 

On Tuesday, the residents and tourists in a remote area in southwest China's Sichuan Province were shaken by a powerful earthquake.

Many ran into the streets as buildings around them shook violently.

The town of Zhangzha in Jiuzhaigou County found itself above the epicenter of the 7.0-magnitude quake, which struck at 9:19 p.m. local time, when most people were having dinner or preparing for bed.

"We were having dinner," said tourist Wu Tao, 27. "As I picked up my chopsticks, the ground shook and the power went off."

Wu and his friends from Dazhou City, Sichuan were visiting Jiuzhai Valley, a UNESCO natural heritage site and a national park known for spectacular waterfalls and karst formations.

"We are lucky. The road towards Dazhou is not blocked. We plan to go home today," he said.

In the InterContinental Resort near the tourist spot, buildings cracked and walls collapsed. Tourists gathered in the parking lot, wrapped in bath towels or quilts. Some have been taken to hospital in nearby Songpan County.

"I was hit by a falling slab but rescue workers arrived and treated my wounds," said 52-year-old Li Jianjun of the hotel staff.

"We are trying to clear blocked roads and send the remaining tourists to safe areas as soon as possible," said Yang Kening, governor of the Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba.

Bo Rui, 38, a tourist from northeast China's Liaoning Province, is in the corridor of a hospital waiting for news from her tour guide. She and her daughter were part of a tour group. Her daughter's head was lightly injured when they ran out of the hotel.

"When the earthquake hit, the hotel staff led all the people to a nearby square," she said.

Doctors and nurses arrived soon after the quake. Despite aftershocks, Bo said "there was no panic and everything went smoothly. The most seriously injured and children were taken to hospital first."

The confirmed death toll stands at 13 with 175 injured, according to the information office of the provincial government.

Earthquakes are common in Sichuan. In May 2008, an 8.0-magnitude earthquake killed more than 80,000 people. In 2013, a 7.0-magnitude quake killed 196.

"Realizing it was an earthquake, there was little panic in the streets as we had learned many lessons from the devastating Wenchuan quake," said Liu Yanrong, a township official.

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