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China censors Tibet earthquake info, blocks locals’ help to devastated victims

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(TibetanReview.net, Jun16’22) – China has imposed information lockdown on the series of over 10 earthquakes that hit a Tibetan county in what is now part of China’s Sichuan province in the morning of Jun 10, affecting more than 25,000 residents, reported the Tibetan Service of rfa.org Jun 13. Government-dispatched rescue workers reached the area only three days later and their first order of business was to tell Tibetans from nearby areas helping the victims to leave at once, said the Tibetan Service of rfa.org Jun 15.

The first earthquake hit the city of Ma’erkang (Tibetan: Barkham) in Ngaba (or Ngawa, Chinese: Aba) Prefecture at 00.03 AM with a 5.8- magnitude, followed by a 6.0-magnitude earthquake at 1:28 AM, reported China’s official global.chinadaily.com.cn Jun 10.

China’s official media said four people were injured and some 25,790 affected people evacuated.

“Most of the houses [in affected areas] are destroyed and many have sustained extensive damage,” rfa.org Jun 13 quoted a local source as saying.

“Many people have been left injured, but I haven’t heard any death reports so far.”

It cited another local source as saying many of the homes left standing were without electricity.

It was raining heavily when the earthquake stuck in the middle of the night, the source has said.

* * *

China’s official media claimed that 1,314 rescue workers had been sent to the affected area, but none was stated to have arrived there at the time the source spoke to the rfa.org on Jun 13.

“The schools in Barkham County, … have seen no help from the government and the students are still lying around their school’s playground. They even have to take care of their own food,” the source has said.

Many displaced people were stated to have found temporary shelter in tents, which monks and townspeople had come together to set up.

Government rescue workers did not reach Barkham until three days after the initial quake. And they told the Tibetans from the nearby areas offering help and succour to the now homeless victims to leave.

“After the official Chinese rescue teams came in, the Tibetans who had come from nearby regions to provide help were not allowed to stay and were told by Chinese authorities to leave the area for their own safety,” the report quoted a local source as saying.

They were reported to have been told that their help was no longer needed.

* * *

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities have imposed a strict clampdown on information leaving Barkham, with residents barred from posting reports, pictures or any other information about the quake, which devastated houses, stupas and monks’ residences, the rfa.org report of Jun 15 cited yet another source as saying.

The authorities were reported to have told residents to report injuries and deaths only to the government rather than sharing the information online.

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