Kyrgyzstan evacuates wounded after quake kills 75
BISHKEK, Oct 7, 2008 (AFP) - Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday dispatched helicopters to evacuate victims of a devastating earthquake that killed 75 people, including 41 children, in a remote mountain village near the Chinese border.
Military helicopters flew the injured from the flattened village of Nura, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from China in the Tian Shan mountains, the emergency ministry said in a statement Tuesday, a national day of mourning.
"Almost all buildings in the village have been destroyed. The only buildings remaining are those built recently: the school and a medical clinic," the statement said.
The death toll rose to 75 after a woman died in hospital overnight, the ministry said.
In addition to Nura's population of about 1,000, the ministry said some 1,000 visitors were in the village when the quake hit late Sunday, including businessmen, tourists and drivers who had just crossed the Chinese border.
A Russian plane carrying rescue workers and humanitarian aid was due to take off for Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday.
The quake had a magnitude of 6.6 according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), and was felt as far away as the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, approximately 400 kilometres (250 miles) from Nura.
Hours later, a powerful tremor struck a sparsely populated area of China's Himalayan region of Tibet, killing nine people, Chinese state media reported.
The dead in the Kyrgyz quake included 41 children, Deputy Health Minister Madamin Karatayev said Monday.
"It all happened so suddenly, so horribly, the earth suddenly groaned and the house fell apart like cards, and what was worse -- my six children were underneath the debris," Akim Zhoroev, one of the survivors, recalled.
"Four of them I dug out with my own hands, and thank Allah they are alive -- but my two youngest, the poor ones, they died instantly, when I got them out they were dead," he said, his voice breaking into uncontrollable sobs.
Shoddy construction was responsible for much of the destruction, the head of Kyrgyzstan's Institute of Seismology, Kanatbek Abdrakhmatov, said Monday.
"These were dilapidated houses, made of clay and straw, so they were totally destroyed," Abdrakhmatov told AFP.
Rescue efforts were hampered by the remoteness of the village and a lack of telephone links, while roads had become impassable in places due to the quake, officials said.
The USGS said the epicentre was 60 kilometres east-southeast of the Kyrgyz village of Sary-Tash at a depth of 27.6 kilometres.
Kyrgyzstan, a landlocked and mountainous nation of five million people, is one of the poorest states of the former Soviet Union and lies in a seismically active region.
Monday's deadly quake in Tibet struck an area about 85 kilometres west of the Tibetan capital of Lhasa at 4:30 pm (0830 GMT) Monday, the USGS said, putting its magnitude at 6.3.
Chinese state news agency Xinhua initially put the death toll at 30 but later revised it to nine.
Copyright (c) 2008 Agence France-Presse
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 10/07/2008 04:14:55
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