BEIJING, July 22 (Kyodo) — At least 89 people were killed and five people are missing after a magnitude 6.6 earthquake hit northwest China's Gansu Province early Monday that destroyed thousands of houses and triggered extensive power outages, official media said.
The quake, which struck at 7:45 a.m. in Dingxi municipality, some 170 kilometers southeast of the provincial capital Lanzhou, injured more than 600 people, destroyed or damaged more than 33,000 houses and interrupted power supply in extensive areas, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said.
The casualty figures, tallied at 6 p.m., may rise as rescuers rushed to the scenes of destruction to look for survivors.
According to Xinhua News Agency, the fatalities occurred mostly in Min and Zhang counties, as well as in Li County in the prefecture-level city of Longnan.
It said the townships of Meichuan and Puma in Min County were seriously hit. It said many houses collapsed in some areas and the quake caused blackouts and cut off telecommunications.
China Central Television reported that Taihe village in Dingxi, a prefecture-level city in the southeast of Gansu, was badly damaged in the quake, with almost all houses collapsed.
Hundreds of soldiers, police and local militiamen, as well as Red Cross workers, have been mobilized to help with rescue efforts.
The China Daily said on its website that the quake struck Min and Zhang just as the two counties were still recovering from weeks of torrential rain and flooding.
It said heavy rain is forecast to hit the areas, where people have been warned to avoid steep mountains due to possible landslides and aftershocks.
Dozens of heavy machines have been sent to repair a damaged part of National Highway No. 212, linking Lanzhou with Min, the newspaper said.
Dingxi officials said the earthquake caused some 200 million yuan ($32.33 million) in direct economic damage.
The earthquake, which occurred at a relatively shallow depth of 20 km, was followed by several aftershocks including one of M5.6 that hit the same area about 90 minutes later.
The quake was reportedly felt in Lanzhou and as far away as Xian, capital of neighboring Shaanxi Province.