— BEIJING (AP) — A powerful earthquake struck the steep hills of China's southwestern Sichuan province on Saturday, leaving at least 156 people dead and more than 5,500 injured, nearly five years after a devastating quake wreaked widespread damage across the region.
Saturday's quake, while not as destructive as the one in 2008, toppled buildings, triggered landslides and disrupted phone and power connections in mountainous Lushan county. The village of Longmen was hit particularly hard, with authorities saying nearly all the buildings there had been destroyed in a frightening minute-long shaking by the quake.
"It was such a big quake that everyone was scared," said a woman who answered the phone at a kindergarten hours later and declined to give her name. "We all fled for our lives."
Rescuers turned the square outside the Lushan County Hospital into a triage center, where medical personnel bandaged bleeding victims, according to footage on China Central Television. Rescuers dynamited boulders that had fallen across roads to reach Longmen and other damaged areas lying farther up the mountain valleys, state media reported.
The China Earthquake Administration said at least 156 people had died, including 96 in Lushan. In the jurisdiction of Ya'an, which administers Lushan, 19 people were reported missing and more than 5,500 people were injured, the administration said.
The quake — measured by the earthquake administration at magnitude-7.0 and by the U.S. Geological Survey at 6.6 — struck the steep hills of Lushan county shortly after 8 a.m., when many people were at home, sleeping or having breakfast. People in their underwear and wrapped in blankets ran into the streets of Ya'an and even the provincial capital of Chengdu, 115 kilometers (70 miles) east of Lushan, according to photos, video and accounts posted online.
The quake's shallow depth, less than 13 kilometers (8 miles), likely magnified the impact.