Death toll in China earthquake reaches 89



BEIJING — An earthquake in the northwestern Chinese province of Gansu killed at least 89 people, injured 628 and left five missing, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The 6.6-magnitude quake struck at 7:45 a.m. local time in the city of Dingxi on Monday, toppling buildings in the region, Xinhua reported earlier. Dingxi is located about 62 miles southeast of the provincial capital, Lanzhou. There have been 422 aftershocks, Xinhua said, citing Chang Zhengguo, a provincial government spokesman.

The government dispatched two helicopters and 6,000 rescuers, including armed police, firefighters, militiamen and local government workers, to the quake area to help with rescue efforts, Xinhua reported.

The quake, which lasted about a minute, was felt in Lanzhou, as well as in Xi’an, the capital of neighboring Shaanxi province, according to Xinhua.

The quake caused more than 5,785 homes to collapse and another 73,000 were severely damaged, Xinhua said, citing an “initial investigation.”

Some rescue efforts were hampered by breakdowns in communication services and blocked roads as soldiers were forced to abandon their trucks and proceed on foot, China National Radio reported.

Western China has been struck by several deadly earthquakes in recent years.

A quake of the same magnitude hit Sichuan province on April 20, killing at least 196 people. In April 2010 a 6.9-magnitude quake in Qinghai province killed about 2,700 people. In 2008, a 7.9-magnitude quake in Sichuan left more than 87,000 people dead or missing.

Chinese President Xi Jinping issued instructions to rescue crews to focus their efforts on reducing casualties from the quake, the official China Central Television reported on its account on Sina Corp.’s Twitter-like Weibo service.