Earthquake in Luding County, Sichuan Province
Rescue workers set up tents in a shelter after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck Moshi city, Luding county, Ganxi Tibet Autonomous Region, Sichuan province, China, September 5, 2022.

China Daily via Reuters

Beijing — The authorities of Chengdu in southwest China maintain strictness CORONAVIRUS INFECTION COVID-19 lockdown measures against the city’s population of 21 million people, despite​​​​a a strong earthquake which killed at least 65 people in remote areas.

Footage circulating online on Tuesday showed workers, dressed from top to bottom, preventing apartment building residents from exiting through locked lobby doors following Monday’s 6.8-magnitude earthquake in nearby Sichuan province.

Buildings in Chengdu and other parts of western China were shaken by the earthquake. There was no destruction in the city. The earthquake occurred in a mountainous area in Luding County, which sits on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau about 125 miles from Chengdu, where tectonic plates press against each other.

Although only a handful of cases have been reported, Chengdu’s lockdown is the most severe since China’s largest city During the summer, Shanghai was in isolationprompting rare protests in person and online.

China’s authoritarian communist political system requires strict adherence to measures dictated by the central leadership, which is overwhelmingly dominated by party leader Xi Jinping.

Local leaders, including the recently appointed party secretary of Sichuan province, are often parachuted in from Beijing, unfamiliar with local conditions and without a firm mandate to carry out Xi’s orders.

Earthquake in Luding, Sichuan
Rescuers carry a victim on a stretcher after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck Qinggangping Village, Luding County, Ganji Tibet Autonomous Region, Sichuan Province, China, September 5, 2022.

China Daily via Reuters

Ruthless and often chaotic enforcement of the lockdown in Shanghai has led to widespread complaints of shortages of food, medicine and access to medical care. In a sign of how little has changed, at least one district in Chengdu has banned even takeout food and coffee, according to a report posted online.

China has stuck to its strict “zero COVID” policy. mandatory testing, lockdowns, quarantines and masks, despite recommendations from the World Health Organization and moves by most other countries to reopen for the first time since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.

China on Tuesday reported 1,499 new cases of local infection, most of which are asymptomatic. Sichuan accounts for 138 of this total.

The earthquake knocked out electricity and damaged buildings in the historic mountain town of Moshi in Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, where 37 people were killed. Tents were erected for more than 50,000 people who were evacuated from homes made unsafe by the earthquake, the official Xinhua news agency said.

State broadcaster CCTV showed rescuers pulling an unharmed woman from a collapsed house in Mossi, where many buildings are made of wood and bricks. It is reported that about 150 people were injured in various degrees of severity.

Another 28 people were killed in the neighboring county of Shimian on the outskirts of the city of Ya’an. State media reported 248 wounded, mostly in Moxi, and another 16 missing.

The three dead were workers in the Hailuogou Scenic Area, a glacier and forest nature reserve.

Along with the deaths, authorities reported landslides that damaged homes, caused power outages and trapped people behind a newly created lake. One landslide blocked a rural road, covering it with boulders.

The earthquake and lockdown followed heat and drought that have led to water shortages and power outages due to Sichuan’s reliance on hydropower.

The deadliest earthquake in China in recent years was a A 7.9-magnitude earthquake in Sichuan in 2008 killed nearly 90,000 people. The shaker destroyed towns, schools and rural communities outside Chengdu, prompting a years-long effort to rebuild with stronger materials.

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