32 dead or missing after China quake: state media

BEIJING, Aug 31, 2008 (AFP) – At least 32 people were killed or reported missing and about 258,000 homes destroyed in a powerful earthquake in southwest China, state media said Sunday.

More than 460 people were injured in Saturday’s 6.1-magnitude earthquake, which rocked Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing the Ministry of Civil Affairs and local agencies.

Most of those killed were residents of Sichuan, which was devastated by a massive earthquake in May that left nearly 88,000 people dead or missing.

More than 700,000 people were affected by Saturday’s quake, Xinhua said.

“Some of the infrastructure in the quake zone was severely damaged,” it quoted the ministry as saying.

Rescue teams rushed to bring tents, food and water to those affected, as well as to help evacuate more than 40,000 people from the zone after up to 300 aftershocks rattled the area, Xinhua said.

One aftershock, which had a magnitude of 5.6, struck the area near the city of Panzhihua, the US Geological Survey said.

State television showed large swathes of collapsed homes in mountainous regions, with debris and mud spread over a wide area.

The government has initiated an emergency response, trucking in rescue workers including military, police and fire brigades, as rain hampered search efforts, it said.

Rescuers worked to dig out survivors throughout the day Sunday, with Xinhua reporting that firemen had successfully located and pulled out four people buried under a collapsed wall in a village in Huili county, outside Panzhihua.

Many dirt roads were blocked, with rescue teams having to clear debris to reach remote villages and assess damage.

Up to 10 reservoirs in the region were damaged, as were several major roads, rail links and power lines, Xinhua added.

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