179,000 people evacuated after strong quake hits southwest China

NING'ER, Yunnan Province, Jun 4, 2007 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- More than 179,000 people have been evacuated following the earthquake in Yunnan province, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

At least three people, including a four-year-old boy, were killed and 313 injured in the earthquake which hit the tea-producing Pu'er City and its surrounding area early on Sunday morning, when most people were in bed. Twenty-eight seriously injured people are still receiving treatment in hospital.

Among the resettled, 65,000 were evacuated from the badly affected Ning'er County. Most of them are living in tents or public places as their mud-and-brick houses were damaged in the powerful quake.

A total of 536,000 local residents were affected in the disaster, according to the department of disaster-relief under the ministry.

More than 90,000 houses collapsed and 270,000 others were damaged, incurring a direct economic loss of 2.5 billion yuan (about 327 million U.S. dollars), it said.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Ministry of Finance have earmarked a living subsidy of 27 million yuan (about 3.5 million dollars) for the affected people. A total of 15,000 tents have been transported to the disaster area.

The most difficult aspect of the disaster relief work is a water shortage. "The tap water supply has been cut off, and the people there can only drink bottled water," said Liu Bin, a publicity official from Pu'er City.

Hundreds of aftershocks have been registered in the city, with the strongest one measuring a magnitude of 5.1. However, experts also warn of the possibility of more aftershocks, said Liu.

Pu'er City, covering an area of 45,000 sq km, has a population of 2.6 million. A home of the tea of the same name, Pu'er lies near to the border with Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.