Officials in southwestern China are still enforcing COVID-19 restrictions even after a powerful earthquake struck the area.
The 6.8-level earthquake hit Monday near the city of Chengdu in Sichuan province. The city has a population of about 21 million people. Buildings in Chengdu and other areas shook during the event. But no structural damage was reported.
The earthquake caused damage in areas outside Chengdu and at least 65 people were reported killed. The quake was centered in a mountainous area in Luding county, about 200 kilometers from Chengdu. The area sits on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau.
Chengdu has only recorded a small number of COVID-19 cases. But the current lockdown is the most severe in China since officials in Shanghai strongly enforced restrictions in April and May of this year. Those restrictions led to rare citizen protests in person and online.
In all, 65 million Chinese in 33 cities are currently under differing levels of lockdown. The restrictions are meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Government officials have warned against travel across the country during upcoming national holidays.
Outbreaks have been reported in 103 Chinese cities, the highest since the early days of the pandemic.
Most people in Chengdu have been ordered to stay in their homes. In the eastern port city of Tianjin, school classes were moved online after a series of new cases were reported.
China has continued to support a “zero-COVID” policy that requires widespread testing, community lockdowns and the use of face coverings. The restrictions go against current advice from the World Health Organization. They also differ from moves by most nations to open up after more than two years of pandemic measures.
The virus that causes COVID-19 first appeared in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.
On Tuesday, China reported 1,499 new cases of local infections, with most people showing no signs of sickness. Sichuan made up 138 of the total number.
The earthquake led to power outages and damaged buildings in the historic mountain town of Moxi in the Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Garze. At least 37 people were reported killed there. The official Xinhua News Agency reported tents were set up to move more than 50,000 people from homes made unsafe by the quake.
State broadcaster CCTV showed rescue workers pulling a woman from a collapsed home in Moxi. The woman appeared uninjured. About 150 people in the area were reported to have suffered injuries.
State media reported 248 people injured, mainly in Moxi, and another 16 people missing.
Along with the deaths, officials reported landslides had damaged homes, caused power issues and trapped people behind a newly created lake. One landslide blocked a rural highway, leaving it covered with rocks.
The earthquake and lockdown come shortly after a heatwave and extreme dry conditions. Such conditions led to water shortages and power cuts because of Sichuan’s dependence on hydropower.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
The Associated Press reported this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
lockdown – n. an emergency in which people are not permitted to freely move about an area because of danger
outbreak – n. a time when something unpleasant and difficult starts to happen, for example a war or disease.
tent – n. a structure made of metal poles and cloth which is fixed to the ground with ropes and used as a cover or to sleep under
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