Earthquakes Kill Hundreds In Western China
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
NPR's Anthony Kuhn is in Beijing to discuss the latest developments. Anthony, where did this quake strike?
ANTHONY KUHN: And it's a largely Tibetan area, a lot of nomadic herders and Tibetan Buddhist lamas living in the area. And a lot of people were still in bed when the first quake, measured at 6.9, hit before eight in the morning. And so a lot of people were trapped in their homes.
NORRIS: You mentioned the '08 earthquake, in that earthquake, the lack of infrastructure really hampered the rescue effort. Is that the case in this quake as well?
KUHN: And now they're also dealing with some low temperatures way up on the Tibetan plateau. They've still got rain and snow coming down and temperatures below freezing at night.
NORRIS: Since this is in a fairly remote area, who's actually leading the rescue effort now and how's it going?
KUHN: Also, it's interesting to note that as this is in a largely Tibetan area, Tibet's religious leader, the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile have also spoken up about this matter. And the government has dispersed millions of dollars in emergency relief funds. So, it's a very big effort underway right now.
NORRIS: Anthony, do you expect that the government response might receive the same kind of scrutiny as it did following the earthquake in 2008?
KUHN: Finally, one of their biggest issues in 2008 was students who were crushed under collapsed schoolhouses. China Radio International has reported that 56 students have been killed in the quake so far. So, I think there will be some attention paid to the quality of school construction in that area.
NORRIS: Anthony, thank you very much.
KUHN: Thank you, Michele.
NORRIS: That's NPR's Anthony Kuhn, talking to us about a major earthquake that struck western China early today. The death toll stands at nearly 600, with another 10,000 injured.
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