Rescue work concludes as earthquake kills 131 and injures 1,000 in NW China; Resettlement and treatment underway amid secondary disasters

The devastating Jishishan earthquake that rattled Northwest China overnight has led to a total of 131 fatalities, including 113 in Gansu Province and 18 in Qinghai Province. Nearly 1,000 people are reported injured, while 16 remain missing. Rescue work is drawing to an end, and the focus next will be the treatment of the injured and the resettlement of affected populations, authorities said at a press conference on Wednesday.

At present, more than 87,000 people have been temporarily evacuated and resettled in safe places, Gansu officials said at the press conference, revealing that nearly 15,000 houses collapsed and 207,000 more were damaged after the quake, affecting 145,736 people. 

According to the latest data, a total of 78 trapped individuals have been rescued, with 6,653 people evacuated as of 6:00 am on Wednesday. Additionally, 360 tents have been set up, 683 hazardous areas have been cleared, and 47 tons of relief supplies have arrived at the disaster-stricken sites. 

After 10 hours of nonstop efforts, all damaged roads and highways leading to the disaster area, especially toward the epicenter, have been cleared and reopened, including all 24 severely damaged rural roads, so that relief and supply vehicles were able to access impacted communities, the Gansu transport bureau said at the press conference. 

All routes within the Lanzhou Railway Bureau, which had been delayed significantly due to impacts of the earthquake, have also resumed normal operations on Wednesday morning.

The damaged main power grid circuits in the earthquake-stricken area of Gansu and Qinghai have also been fully restored as of Tuesday evening, according to the State Grid Gansu Electric Power Company.

A total of 423 aftershocks have been recorded over the one and a half days since the initial impact, including 10 aftershocks measuring 3.0 magnitude or higher. 

The strong earthquake triggered various secondary disasters. In Minhe county, Qinghai, which borders the epicenter Jishishan county, two villages experienced moving sand shortly after the earthquake. A significant number of houses were buried and washed away by mudslides, resulting in 20 individuals going missing. Following the incident, the Qinghai Provincial Fire Rescue Team swiftly organized overnight rescue operations.

The houses of 36 families, totaling 177 villagers, were destroyed by rushing sand in Jintian village, and 13 individuals are still missing. A firefighter on-site told the Global Times that after overnight search and rescue efforts, as of Wednesday morning, the bodies of four deceased have been discovered.

“The entire area is now covered with a thick layer of wet, thick and adhesive sludge. Rescue personnel told us that it’s so heavy and dense that it cannot be dug manually and requires heavy machinery for removal,” reporters from China Central Television said in a video shot from an impacted village.

Three excavators, brought in urgently, have been operating continuously, the CCTV report showed. “Shortly after the earthquake, waves of thick slurry, rising up to three meters high, surged and inundated the villages,” the reporter said in the video.

Over 20 provinces across China expect to suffer freezing temps due to new cold front

A new strong cold front pushing north to south through China is expected to turn a vast area of the country’s territory into a huge “refrigerator” from Thursday till Saturday, leading to over 20 provinces, regions and municipalities bracing for below freezing temperatures. 

From north to south, many places across the country suffered blizzards, freezing rain, and other extremely weather conditions on Thursday. Meteorological experts explained that the recent frequent cold fronts were caused by global warming heating up the Arctic and bringing cold fronts southward. 

Temperatures in multiple places in Northeast China and North China will further plunge to record lows, as severe cold snaps and cold fronts have been making their way across the country from the north to the south since earlier this week, according to Weather China. 

The meteorological forecast website predicted on Thursday that temperatures in multiple places in the southern part of the country will drop to the lowest seen so far this season, with 0 C temperatures expected in the southern part of Southwest China’s Guizhou Province and the northern part of South China, making people from more than 20 provinces feel like they are living in a “refrigerator.”

The cold fronts that came in December, earlier than usual, have been particularly severe. Although temperatures are reaching levels rarely seen in the past, this does not mean that brass monkey weather, which usually occurs in January or February, will be colder this year, Ma Jun, director of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

When the rare cold front ends next week and highs rise back to 0 C or above, the average temperature will return to usual levels. 

China’s National Meteorological Center (NMC) continued to issue a yellow alert for low temperatures early Thursday morning, forecasting daily lows or daily average temperatures 5 C lower than usual in multiple regions from the middle and western part of North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to the regions south of the Huanghuai region. The 0 C isotherm will stretch from the southern part of Guizhou to the northern part of the South China.

According to the weather forecast on Thursday by Weather China, from north to south, the highs in the majority of Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province and the middle and eastern parts of Inner Mongolia will be lower than -18 C. Temperatures in most parts of Northwest China, North China, and the Huanghuai and Jianghuai regions will remain below freezing, making them the “freezer compartment” of this “refrigerator” wave. 

Whereas in the southern parts of China, such as the Jiangnan area, Sichuan Basin, Chongqing and Guizhou areas, highs will remain at 10 C or below, while highs in South China and Southwest China’s Yunnan Province will remain above 10 C. 

Since the beginning of December, the temperatures across the country have experienced roller-coaster-like temperature fluctuations. The national average temperature from December 1 to 13 was higher than usual, the highest of the same period in history. However, since December 14, affected by the large-scale cold wave, the temperatures have plummeted in most parts of the country, and the maximum daily temperature drop of some national weather stations has broken historical extremes.

Between December 14 and 17, a large-scale cold wave affected a vast area of the country with wide influence, long duration and large accumulative precipitation. The maximum temperature drop reached or exceeded 20 C in 95 national weather stations, among which the maximum temperature drop in Datong, North China’s Shanxi Province, reached 26.3 C.

While a warm winter was previously forecast this year, Ma explained that such extreme cold weather conditions will not necessarily overturn previous predictions. Before the impact of the recent cold waves, the southern part of the country, especially the Yangtze River basin, did experience warmer weather than usual. The overall average temperature in the next phase will decide whether this winter will be considered a warm winter, Ma said, noting that more attention should be paid to increasing extreme weather.

Since the strong cold wave gripped Northeast China’s Jilin Province on December 15, temperatures in the province have plunged to freezing. According to the Jilin Meteorological Service, the highest temperatures during daytime in Jilin on Thursday was between -20 C and -16 C and the lowest temperature was forecast to be between -30 C and -27 C, with temperatures in some mountainous areas in the southeastern part of the province dropping as low as -32 C. 

On Wednesday, the Jilin Meteorological Service forecast that temperatures in the middle and western parts of the province will rise starting Saturday while the eastern part of the province must wait to Sunday to see a rise. 

In East China’s Shandong Province, the coastal cities of Yantai and Weihai have suffered snowstorms since December 15, with a blizzard pouring 35.6 millimeters of snow on the Wendeng district in Weihai. 

The Shandong Meteorological Bureau has forecast snowstorms or blizzards in Yantai and Weihai from Wednesday to Friday with accumulated snowfall reaching 35 millimeters or above. 

Meanwhile, East China’s Shanghai recorded the chilliest day of December in four decades with temperatures expected to remain below zero all day throughout the city, the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau said, noting the city’s lowest temperatures will reach -4 to -6 C in the city’s suburbs. 

Local meteorological experts have forecast that the lowest temperatures will remain below 0 C in Shanghai between Thursday and Monday, possibly the coldest mid-December in the past four decades. 

The water in the West Lake in Hangzhou, East China’s Zhejiang Province, even froze over early Thursday morning as the temperature dropped to only -4 C, the NMC said in a post on Sina Weibo. 

Affected by the continuous low temperature, patients suffering from frostbite are also increasing, and some hospitals have set up frostbite clinics. 

A doctor from the dermatology department of Zhongda Hospital Southeast University told the Health Times – affiliated to People’s Daily – that the recent frostbite patients mainly suffer from frostbite on the hands, feet, ears, face and other parts. Most of them had stayed outdoors for a long time, such as riding electric bikes and doing outdoor work. Some children suffer from ear frostbite due to playing outdoors.

Yiwu Intl Trade City attracts customers to purchase imported goods for New Year

Editor's Note:

The Yiwu International Trade City Import Commodity Pavilion is a new benchmark set up by Yiwu to transform the Yiwu market from one-way export trade to multi-directional trade. The import commodity pavilion has a business area of 100,000 square meters, gathering products from more than 100 countries, including food, health products, clothing, shoes, hats, daily necessities, household items, kitchenware, daily chemical products, maternity and baby products, jewelry and accessories, and other 8 major categories of source goods. As the end of the year approaches, citizens come to purchase New Year goods and gifts. Photos: Li Hao/GT

China's Zheng Qinwen secures first ever WTA title

After overcoming several disappointments and obstacles, China's 20-year-old tennis prodigy Zheng Qinwen has finally made a spectacular breakthrough in her embryonic career by winning her first-ever Women's Tennis Association (WTA) singles championship.

Zheng, a wild card in the competition as a late entry, defeated local favorite Jasmine Paolini in the final of the Palermo Ladies Open in Italy on Sunday, becoming the Chinese mainland's 12th WTA singles champion.

"This is very special to me as it is my first WTA 250 title. I'll remember that," said Zheng, who is also the youngest Chinese mainland player to win a WTA tour championship, said during her acceptance speech.

Zheng was awarded the WTA's 2022 Newcomer of the Year following a stunning run at the French Open, when she stunned two-time Grand Slam winner Simona Halep and French number one Alize Cornet on route to the quarterfinals.

She had great aspirations of progressing farther in the next season, but her fitness and form were lacking. Despite recently changing coaches to seek a change, she had four consecutive losses.

Under enormous pressure, the young Chinese player, who finished second to Liudmila Samsonova in her debut final in Tokyo in 2022, ultimately turned the tide by winning the championship in Palermo, putting an end to her losing streak and recovering her confidence.

Zheng's stunning breakthrough brought to mind her compatriot Li Na, the first Asian woman to win a Grand Slam singles title at the French Open.

Ever since the Women's tennis competitions have been put on hold in China since 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, WTA announced in April that it will resume tournaments in China from this September.

As the country has long been a dominant force in women's tennis, Zheng is always considered as being among the rising stars of the young generation of Chinese female tennis players.

The women's tour hosted nine events in China in 2019. The prestigious China Open, a mandatory event in WTA's China tour, is expected to return, along with events in Wuhan, Li's hometown and Hong Kong as well as the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai.

The season-ending WTA Finals, which has a 10-year partnership with Shenzhen and delivers a record $14 million in prize money, is the most important of these tournaments.

Men's tennis is also expected to restart, with the Shanghai Masters as the main event in 2023.

This year has seen the reintroduction of international sports tournaments such as the WTA, athletics' Diamond League, figure skating's Grand Prix, and multi-sport events such as the University Games and Asian Games.

China’s Asian Games champions underline friendship, solidarity amid international competitions

China's Olympic champions believe the universal language of sport is a key to bridge communications for athletes as well as people of different countries and regions, as they continue their preparations for the Paris Olympic Games in 2024.

"Winning or losing is indeed the essence of competitive sports, but now I no longer think it's everything because we have something more valuable than victory," swimming queen Zhang Yufei told reporters at a forum held by the China Public Diplomacy Association in Beijing on November 22.

The essence of competitive sports goes beyond winning and losing, believed Zhang, who won six gold medals at the Hangzhou Asian Games. 

Zhang's touching moment with Japanese swimmer Rikako Ikee at the Hangzhou Asian Games, where they embraced despite being rivals, became a memorable scene. 

"We participated in the same discipline but it was until the final day of 50 meters butterfly final that she made onto the podium," Zhang said. 

"Her ability to return to the competition is a miracle. It is her perseverance that inspired me to continue when facing a bad situation."

Zhang was referring a fever she caught on day four of her competitions at the Asian Games, when she had to continue to achieve her personal goal of becoming the MVP of the event, which required more gold medals at the time. 

"It is her perseverance she demonstrated after wading through leukemia which sidelined her from competing after achieving six gold and two silver medals at 2018 Asian Games," Zhang noted. 

Zhang's teammate Qin Haiyang, a breaststroke specialist who set a new 200 meters world record this year, noted that he hopes to inspire more people to participate in sports activities, expressing his desire to showcase not only athletic achievements but also the confidence, unity and friendship of Chinese athletes on the international stage.

The power of role models is limitless as gymnasts Zou Jingyuan and Zhang Boheng mentioned the influential figures in their sport, such as Li Ning, Li Xiaoshuang and Japan's Kohei Uchimura.

"Although we are competitors on the field, off the field, we are friends. Athletes worldwide share a common philosophy of developing modern gymnastics, innovating movements, and spreading the love for sports globally," Zou said.

All-rounder Zhang is often linked to Japanese gymnast Hashimoto Daiki, as the duo  are being considered the top athletes in the sport. This year they have competed head-to-head in China at the Chengdu Universiade and the Hangzhou Asian Games.

"Although this year I won, but I don't think he is at top form. I expect to compete with him when both of us are in-form. Maybe the stage will be the Olympics next year," Zhang said. 

"All the gymnasts in the world share a common philosophy, that is, to develop modern competitive gymnastics, constantly innovate movements, share our understanding of gymnastics, and our love for sports with the world," Zou added.

Off the field, interactions and friendships among athletes from different countries and regions highlight the Olympic spirit that unites the world, as two-time Olympic taekwondo champion Wu Jingyu, now chair of World Taekwondo Athletes Committee, underlines the communication among the athletes facilitate the Olympic spirit. 

"In addition to athletic achievements, athletes' perseverance and pursuit of dreams are also part of the Olympic spirit. This Olympic family allows athletes to freely show and express the spirit of sports, inspire more people with spiritual strength," Wu said.