Massive Earthquake Leaves Thousands Without Homes In China Amid Record Cold

A massive earthquake hit China last week leaving 149 people dead and thousands displaced amid frigid temperatures. 

The 6.2 magnitude earthquake, which hit on December 18, left nearly 1,000 people injured and forced 87,000 out of their homes due to extensive damage. The earthquake primarily impacted people living in a mountainous region between Gansu and Qinghai provinces. At least two people are still missing as first responders continue to search the rural area. 

Officials said that the main concern was to keep people who had lost their homes during the earthquake and following mudslides out of the cold as parts of China have seen record lows in recent weeks. So far, this December has been the coldest ever recorded in China’s capital, Beijing, and other regions of the country have also been hit by cold weather. Over 500 temporary housing units have already been constructed in Gansu as over 14,000 homes have been destroyed.

The earthquake was the biggest to hit China in 9 years, according to the Associated Press. The United States Geological Survey measured the earthquake at 5.9 magnitude, a little lower than the China Earthquake Networks Center’s 6.2 magnitude measurement. 

Many lost access to water, electricity, and cell phone coverage in the aftermath of the earthquake, which hit around midnight, giving people little time to react or prepare for the cold conditions outside. “There was a loud ‘boom’ and the wall on the second floor collapsed. [I was] nearly hit and trapped inside,” a resident of a  village hit by the earthquake told Chinese news outlet Jiupai News.

Around $28 million have reportedly been appropriated for the provinces impacted  by the disaster by China’s Finance Ministry and Emergency Management Ministry. 

Previous earthquakes in China have also proved to be deadly, with 600 people dying during one that hit in 2014 and roughly 90,000 dying in 2008 during a 7.9 magnitude earthquake. 

Earlier this year, tens of thousands of people in Syria and Turkey were killed after a pair of 7.8-magnitude and 7.5-magnitude earthquakes in February. The disaster led to the deaths of over 50,000 people and impacted nearly 16 million people. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country had been shaken by its “biggest disaster” since the 1939 Erzincan earthquake, which killed more than 30,000 people. Facing criticism over the nation’s early response to the disaster, Erdogan also conceded “shortcomings” during the country’s response to the calamity.

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