Quakes kill at least 64 in mountainous southwest China

Christopher Bodeen / The Associated Press /

Published Sep 8, 2012 at 05:00AM

BEIJING — Twin earthquakes and a spate of aftershocks struck southwestern China on Friday, toppling thousands of houses and sending boulders cascading across roads. At least 64 people were killed and hundreds injured in the remote mountainous area, and more than 100,000 residents were evacuated.

Damage was preventing rescuers from reaching outlying towns, and communications were disrupted after the midday quakes hit along the borders of Guizhou and Yunnan provinces, a rural region where some of China’s poorest people live.

The first 5.6-magnitude quake struck just before 11:30 a.m. and was followed by an equally strong quake shortly after noon, joined by dozens of aftershocks. Though of moderate strength, the quakes were shallow, which often causes more damage.

Hardest hit was Yiliang County, where all but one of the deaths occurred, according to the Yunnan provincial government’s official website. Another 715 people in the area were injured. Yiliang’s high population density, shoddy building construction and propensity for landslides were blamed for the relatively high death toll.

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