Earthquake Kills Over 120 In China

 December 19, 2023

A devastating series of earthquakes has struck northwest China's Gansu province, leading to significant loss of life and widespread damage.

Northwest China's Gansu province is currently grappling with the aftermath of a deadly earthquake having claimed over 120 lives.

The earthquakes, including a 6.2 magnitude quake, the largest in the series, have caused extensive destruction in a region already burdened by impoverished conditions and poorly constructed buildings. The tremors led to the collapse of thousands of homes, leaving many residents homeless.

Survivors Face Extreme Winter Cold

Survivors face brutal winter conditions as rescue efforts intensify, with temperatures expected to plummet to -17°C (1.4°F). Emergency personnel work tirelessly to aid those trapped under debris and provide relief to those displaced by the disaster.

An unnamed emergency response volunteer emphasized the urgency of their mission, stating, "The most urgent task for us is to make things ready quickly as temperatures will reach -17 C (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) tonight.”

The region's hospitals, already facing challenges due to an uptick in respiratory illnesses and a blood shortage, are now overwhelmed with casualties from the earthquake. The disaster's timing, coinciding with the coldest period and a spike in illnesses, has compounded the difficulties faced by medical facilities.

Infrastructure and Aid Challenges

Infrastructure damage has been significant, with reports of collapsed mountains and bridge displacements severely impacting rescue and relief efforts. Video footage from the area shows buildings with deep cracks and people frantically fleeing into the streets for safety.

A survivor, known as Qin, recounted their harrowing experience:

"I live on the 16th floor and felt the tremors so strongly. The moment of the earthquake was feeling like being tossed up after surging waves. I woke my family up, and we rushed down all 16 floors in one breath.”

Locals have taken the initiative to collect relief supplies, as government aid has been slow to arrive. The Chinese government has allocated 200 million yuan ($28 million) towards relief efforts, a crucial step in addressing the immediate needs of the affected communities.

Community and Government Response

In the wake of the disaster, local communities have been actively distributing their own emergency supplies, highlighting the resilience and solidarity among the affected population. They have also been instrumental in raising awareness about the extent of the damage and the number of people still missing.

The Chinese government has responded by deploying thousands of relief workers, including People's Liberation Army (PLA) personnel, to assist in the emergency response. These efforts are focused on rescue, medical aid, and providing shelter to those displaced by the earthquake.

Xinhua news reporters who arrived at Chenjia village in Dahejia township described the scene:

“Xinhua reporters arrived at the severely affected Chenjia village in Dahejia township in Gansu at around 3 a.m. Tuesday, finding the village plunged into darkness as a blackout gripped the area, and electricity cables dangled on the ground. Several houses had crumbled, leaving streets strewn with shards of glass, bricks, and rocks."

Timeline of the Catastrophe

The crisis in Gansu province began with overcrowded hospitals dealing with respiratory illnesses throughout November. This was followed by record-low temperatures in various Chinese cities just before the weekend preceding the earthquakes.

Early Monday, December 18, marked the onset of the earthquakes, striking the region around 3 am local time. The government's response, including the deployment of relief workers and the allocation of funds, came rapidly in the aftermath of the disaster.

As of Tuesday morning, December 19, the death toll stood at 127, with many still missing. This makes the Gansu province earthquake the deadliest in China since 2010, highlighting the severity of the situation.


The Gansu province earthquake has led to:

  • Over 120 fatalities and hundreds injured, marking it as the deadliest earthquake in China since 2010.
  • Significant damage to poorly constructed buildings, resulting in thousands being displaced.
  • Challenges for hospitals include a shortage of blood and overcrowding.
  • Local communities stepping in to provide aid in the face of slow government response.
  • The government allocated 200 million yuan ($28 million) for relief efforts.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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