6.4 magnitude aftershock strikes China


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BEIJING: Quake-hit Sichuan province in China witnessed its worst aftershock 13 days after the main earthquake on May 12. The aftershock at 6.4 magnitude on Richter scale gave rise to serious fears of quake-created lakes bursting and causing serious floods. Initial reports showed that one person had died and 260 injured in the aftershock, but detailed reports were being awaited.

Sunday’s aftershock destroyed 70,000 houses and damaged another 200,000, official sources said. The scale of damage to property indicates that the number of casualties might go up sharply once detailed information is available.

Meanwhile the water resources ministry said in a statement that 69 dams scarred by the force of China’s most powerful earthquake in three decades were in danger of bursting.

The aftershock struck at 4.21pm in the Qingchuan county, but tremors were felt all over Sichuan and large parts of neighbouring Gansu and Shaanxi provinces.

The tremors caused a cave-in on a provincial highway and disrupted traffic in Lueyang county of Sichuan, Chen Weiming, publicity official at the local government said.

The government was closely monitoring the situation in all 34 earthquake-created lakes that are under the danger of bursting, the geological survey department said. A group of 1800 workers have been posted at the quake-created lake in Tangjiashan with orders to blast away its landslide barrier before it bursts and causes a flood. The workers have so far not succeeded in bursting the barrier because of bad weather.

Officials said the work of blasting the landslide might be hampered because of the aftershock. Water level in this lake was just 29 metres from the surface on Sunday afternoon.

The government meanwhile raised the number of "confirmed deaths" to 62,000.
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