80 dead as two quakes hit homes in China

AUTHORITIES poured aid into a remote mountainous area of southwestern China and rescue workers with sniffer dogs searched for survivors yesterday after twin earthquakes killed at least 80 people.

More than 100,000 residents were evacuated after Friday’s quakes toppled thousands of homes and sent boulders cascading across roads in a region 
of small farms and mines where some of China’s poorest people live.

The damage was preventing rescuers from reaching outlying towns, and communications were disrupted after the quakes hit along the borders of Guizhou and Yunnan 
provinces. But state television said yesterday that a road into the worst-hit 
area that had been blocked with fallen boulders was cleared, allowing workers and assistance in.

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Weather forecasts said there was a chance of rain over the next three days, which could hamper rescue work. The official Xinhua News Agency quoted weather officials as warning of the risk of “rain-triggered geological disasters” such as landslides in the quake-hit region.

Zhang Junwei, a spokesman for the Yunnan Seismological Bureau, said yesterday that the death toll stood at 80. Yunnan’s civil affairs department said another 820 people had been injured in the earthquakes.

Hardest hit was Yiliang County, where all but one of the deaths occurred, according to the Yunnan provincial government. Yiliang’s high population density – twice the provincial average – flimsy building construction and landslide-prone hillsides were blamed for the relatively high death toll.

Chinese television showed roads littered with boulders and dust rising from the landslides.