NU Online News Service, July 13, 1:42 p.m. EDT
Insurance losses are expected to be negligible from a 5.7 magnitude quake that rocked China on Thursday evening, sending hundreds of thousands to shelters in the Yunnan Province.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake occurred at 7:19 p.m. local time (7:19 a.m. EDT) on Thursday, occurring 60 miles east-northeast of Dali, Yunnan, China, and 1,320 miles southwest of Beijing.
China’s Xinhua News Service reported on Monday that a total of 30,832 houses collapsed and another 625,000 were damaged.
Bingming Shen-Tu, principal scientist, seismologist at Boston-based catastrophe modeler AIR Worldwide, said in a statement that many homes in the area were built of either mud or low-quality unreinforced masonry.
“Most were uninsured and did not adhere to building codes,” he said.
AIR said that Southwest China, including the Yunnan Province, is part of the country’s north-south Seismic Belt–home to some of the largest and deadliest earthquakes in China’s history. This includes last year’s magnitude 7.9 Wenchuan earthquake in the central province of Sichuan, the country’s deadliest natural disaster in almost 30 years. That event killed nearly 70,000 people and is estimated to have destroyed 5.36 million buildings, AIR said.
Moderate earthquakes are quite frequent in this area as well, AIR noted.
“Since 1955, a 5.0 magnitude event (or larger) has occurred every 3-4 years within 62 miles of Yao An County–the location of Thursday’s temblor,” Mr. Shen-Tu pointed out.
He said a 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck the same area back in January 2000, flattening tens of thousands of buildings. In that case, too, most of the buildings were of poor quality and uninsured.
Xinhua reported that the quake killed one person and injured 367, of which 31 are critical.
Authorities have removed all 255,000 people they considered endangered by continued aftershocks. They were relocated to tents, makeshift houses or homes of relatives, the news service reported.
Xinhua said there have been a total of 800 aftershocks since Thursday.