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China’s Chengdu enforces strict lockdown despite earthquake

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In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, rescuers carry a villager across a river following an earthquake in Moxi Town of Luding County, southwest China's Sichuan Province on Monday, Sept. 5, 2022. Dozens people were reported killed and missing in a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that shook China's southwestern province of Sichuan on Monday, triggering landslides and shaking buildings in the provincial capital of Chengdu, whose 21 million residents are already under a COVID-19 lockdown. (Cheng Xueli/Xinhua via AP)
1of9In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, rescuers carry a villager across a river following an earthquake in Moxi Town of Luding County, southwest China’s Sichuan Province on Monday, Sept. 5, 2022. Dozens individuals were reported killed and missing in a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that shook China’s southwestern province of Sichuan on Monday, triggering landslides and shaking buildings in the provincial capital of Chengdu, whose 21 million residents already are under a COVID-19 lockdown. (Cheng Xueli/Xinhua via AP)

BEIJING (AP) Authorities in southwestern Chinas Chengdu have maintained strict COVID-19 lockdown measures on the town of 21 million despite a significant earthquake that killed at the very least 65 people in outlying areas.

Footage circulating online Tuesday showed workers wearing top-to-bottom protective gear preventing residents of apartment buildings from exiting through locked lobby doors following Mondays 6.8 magnitude quake centered in the encompassing province of Sichuan.

Buildings in Chengdu along with other elements of western China were shaken by the quake. No damage was reported in the town. The quake struck a mountainous area in Luding county, which sits on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau roughly 200 kilometers (125 miles) from Chengdu, where tectonic plates grind against one another.

Despite only recording a small number of cases, Chengdus lockdown may be the most unfortunate since Chinas largest city of Shanghai was put into isolation on the summer, prompting rare protests personally and online.

In every, 65 million Chinese in 33 cities including including seven provincial capitals are under varying degrees of lockdown as the government is discouraging domestic travel during upcoming national holidays.

Outbreaks have already been reported in 103 cities, the best since the start of the pandemic in early 2020.

Most Chengdu residents are confined with their apartments or residential complexes. In the eastern port city of Tianjin, classes were moved online following a couple of new cases were reported.

Chinas authoritarian Communist political system demands strict adherence to measures dictated by the central leadership overwhelmingly dominated by party leader Xi Jinping.

Local leaders, including Sichuans recently appointed provincial party secretary, tend to be parachuted in from Beijing with little understanding of local conditions and a company mandate to handle Xis dictates.

The ruthless and frequently chaotic enforcement of the Shanghai lockdown resulted in widespread complaints over shortages of food, medication and usage of healthcare. In an indicator of how little has changed, a minumum of one district in Chengdu has banned even the ordering of takeout meals and coffee, in accordance with a notice posted on the net.

China has stuck to its hard-line zero-COVID policy of compulsory testing, lockdowns, quarantines and masking despite advice from the planet Health Organization and moves by almost every other countries to start again because the virus was initially detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.

China on Tuesday reported 1,499 new cases of local infection, many of them asymptomatic. Sichuan accounted for 138 of this total figure.

The quake knocked out power and damaged buildings in the historic mountain town of Moxi in the Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Garze, where 37 individuals were killed. Tents were erected for a lot more than 50,000 people being moved from homes made unsafe by the quake, the state Xinhua News Agency reported.

State broadcaster CCTV showed rescue crews pulling a female who appeared uninjured from the collapsed home in Moxi, where most of the buildings are made of wood and brick. Around 150 individuals were reported with varying levels of injuries.

Another 28 individuals were killed in neighboring Shimian county on the outskirts of the town of Yaan. State media reported 248 people injured, mainly in Moxi, and another 16 people missing.

Three of the dead were workers at the Hailuogou Scenic Area, a glacier and forest nature reserve.

Combined with the deaths, authorities reported landslides that damaged homes, caused power interruptions and stranded people behind a newly created lake. One landslide blocked a rural highway, leaving it strewn with boulders.

The earthquake and lockdown follow a heat wave and drought that resulted in water shortages and power cuts because of Sichuans reliance on hydropower.

Chinas deadliest earthquake recently was a 7.9 magnitude quake in 2008 that killed nearly 90,000 people in Sichuan. The temblor devastated towns, schools and rural communities outside Chengdu, resulting in a years-long effort to rebuild with an increase of resistant materials.

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