Magnitude 6.8 earthquake kills 65, triggers landslides in southwest China

Rescue workers helping people cross a river in southwest China
Rescue workers help earthquake survivors cross a river in the southwestern Chinese town of Moxi, in Sichuan province.
(Cheng Xueli / Xinhua News Agency)

The powerful earthquake that set off landslides and shook buildings in southwestern China killed at least 65 people and injured hundreds, state media said Tuesday.

At least 16 other people are missing a day after the magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck a mountainous area in Luding county in Sichuan province, which sits on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, where tectonic plates meet, and is hit regularly by quakes. The temblor shook buildings in the provincial capital of Chengdu, 125 miles from the epicenter.

Power was knocked out and buildings were damaged in the historic town of Moxi in the Tibetan prefecture of Garze, where 37 people were killed. Tents were erected for more than 50,000 people being moved from homes made unsafe by the quake, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.


State broadcaster CCTV showed rescue crews pulling a woman who appeared uninjured from a collapsed home in Moxi, where many of the buildings are built from a mix of wood and brick. Around 150 people were reported to have suffered injuries of varying degrees.

Another 28 people were killed in neighboring Shimian county on the outskirts of the city of Yaan. Another 248 people were reported injured, mainly in Moxi, and another 12 people were reported missing.

Three of the dead were workers at the Hailuogou Scenic Area, a glacier and forest nature reserve.

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Along with the deaths, authorities reported stones and soil falling from mountainsides, causing damage to homes and power interruptions, CCTV said. One landslide blocked a rural highway, leaving it strewn with rocks, the Ministry of Emergency Management said.

Buildings shook in Chengdu, whose 21 million residents are already on lockdown under China’s strict “zero-COVID” policy.

The earthquake and lockdown follow a heat wave and drought that led to water shortages and power cuts because of Sichuan’s reliance on hydropower.


China’s deadliest earthquake in recent years was a magnitude 7.9 quake in 2008 that killed nearly 90,000 people in Sichuan. The temblor devastated towns, schools and rural communities outside Chengdu, leading to a years-long effort to rebuild with more resistant materials.