China's Sichuan province shaken by powerful quake
At least 124 people are reported dead and more than 2,600 injured, after a magnitude-6.6 earthquake struck China's Sichuan province Saturday. The area was also devastated by the 2008 magnitude-7.9 earthquake.
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"It was just like May 12," Liu Xi, a writer in Ya'an city, who was jolted awake by Saturday's quake, said via a private message on his account on Sina Corporation's Twitter-like Weibo service. "All the home decorations fell at once, and the old house cracked."Skip to next paragraph
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Xinhua said the well-known Bifengxia panda preserve, which is near Lushan, was not affected by the quake. Dozens of pandas were moved to Bifengxia from another preserve, Wolong, after its habitat was wrecked by the 2008 quake.
As in most natural disasters, the government mobilized thousands of soldiers and others — 7,000 people by Saturday afternoon — sending excavators and other heavy machinery as well as tents, blankets and other emergency supplies. One soldier died after the vehicle that he and a dozen others were in slipped off the road and rolled down an embankment, state media reported.
With roads blocked for several hours after the quake, the military surveyed the disaster area by air. Aerial photos released by the military and shown on state television showed individual houses in ruins in Lushan and outlying villages flattened into rubble. The roofs of some taller buildings appeared to have slipped off, exposing the floors beneath them.
A person whose posts to the micro-blogging account "Qingyi Riverside" on Weibo carried a locator geotag for Lushan said many buildings collapsed and that people could spot helicopters hovering above.
The earthquake administration said there had been at least 627 aftershocks, including two of magnitude-5.0 or higher.
"It's too dangerous," said a person with the Weibo account Chengduxinglin and with a Lushan geotag. "Even the aftershocks are scary."
While rescuers and state media rushed to the disaster scene, China's active social media users filled the information gap. They posted photos of people rushing to streets for safety and of buildings flattened by the quake. They shared information on the availability of phone services, apparently through data services.
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