Sichuan earthquake: Death toll rises to 66 as Chinese rescuers evacuate 11,000 from mountain villages

·2-min read

Rescue crews in China have helped evacuate more than 11,000 people a day after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck southwestern Sichuan on Monday, leading to 66 deaths and 250 people getting injured.

Rescuers battled rugged mountainous terrain on Tuesday to evacuate the affected amid an increasing death toll from the earlier total of 22 reported fatalities yesterday.

State media footage showed rescue operations in precarious terrain.

An injured person was being carried on a stretcher across a makeshift bridge made of tree trunks at the site of rescue operations in Luding county - the epicentre of the quake - while a woman covered in dust was seen being rescued on a stretcher from a four-storey wooden building.

The earthquake is said to be the strongest to strike Sichuan since 2017.

Tremors were felt by residents living hundreds of kilometres away in Shaanxi and Guizhou on Monday afternoon.

Over 200 people are also reported to be stranded at a popular tourist spot and glacier park Hailuogou on Tuesday and rescuers were trying to reopen the roads connecting to the spot to reach them.

The region is expected to receive heavy rain over the next three days, sparking concerns over risks from dammed lakes that have emerged after the quake.

Locals who escaped the quake in the tectonically active area along the eastern boundary of the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau were seen walking out of the region alongside the river.

Some held onto their belongings as others carried injured people on their backs, visuals from the rescue and search operation showed.

Firefighters deployed by Chinese authorities restored utilities in the area and dispatched emergency relief for stranded people after making inroads to reach them, officials said.

As of Tuesday, more than 11,000 people were evacuated from the rugged mountainous region in southwest China.

Power, water infrastructure and telecommunications were reported to have collapsed in Luding. This included power connections to several nearby towns and various highways and stateways that were cut off.

Seven small- to mid-sized hydropower stations have suffered damage as well, according to officials.

A total 243 houses collapsed and 13,010 were damaged, state television reported. Four hotels and hundreds of tourist lodgings were also affected.

Officials identified around 500 potential geological hazards like landslides and collapsed mountain roads in the area, according to reports.