Firefighters are racing against time to initiate emergency search and rescue efforts after a 6.0-magnitude earthquake jolted Luxian County of Luzhou City in southwest China's Sichuan Province.
Three people were confirmed dead while at least 60 others were injured in the earthquake, as of Thursday morning. Among those hospitalized, three were seriously injured, according to the local emergency management bureau.
In wake of the quake, Luzhou City has activated a level-I emergency response, the highest in China's four-tier earthquake emergency response system.
The Sichuan provincial fire rescue headquarters launched a cross-region contingency plan and immediately dispatched rescue teams in Luzhou to the epicentre.
A total of 738 firefighters and 165 vehicles were dispatched to the epicenter from several other cities in Sichuan.
China's Ministry of Emergency Management also mobilized more than 4,600 firefighters from nearby regions to help in the rescue efforts.
After nearly an hour of search and rescue, trapped persons in the Longqiao Community of Luxian County were saved and sent to the hospital.
At the Yunding Town of Neijiang City bordering Luzhou, where several houses were damaged due to the earthquake wave, 13 local firefighters are inspecting the sites and searching for possible victims. As of 6:15, three injured people had been rescued.
Around 9:00 on Thursday, firefighters had received about 24 calls for help, and swiftly reacted and rescued more than 20 trapped residents and went on to evacuate 123 people.
"The current calls for help that the rescue team received are mainly about concerns of collapsing houses, and there are also some secondary disasters where people trapped in elevators. So far, we have evacuated 123 people," said Zhao He at the Fire and Rescue Department of China's Ministry of Emergency Management.
According to the China Earthquake Networks Center, the earthquake occurred at 4:33 a.m. The epicenter was monitored at 29.2 degrees north latitude and 105.34 degrees east longitude. The quake struck at a depth of 10 km.
Zhang Zhiwei, deputy head of the Sichuan earthquake administration, said the quake, unlike the devastating Wenchuan Earthquake and Lushan Earthquake in the province, happened in the fracture zone of Huaying Mountain.
An expert analysis concluded that a more serious earthquake is unlikely to occur in the area, but aftershocks may occur.
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