Hongkongers who were touring Jiuzhaigou when the magnitude 7 quake struck on Tuesday have all been accounted for. The earthquake struck close to the popular Jiuzhaigou National Park, killing 20 people and injuring 431. Rescue workers are still searching for missing people and rescuing those stranded, local authorities said.
Local tour companies have been cancelling their upcoming trips to the region popular for its cool weather at this time of the year.
Yesterday the town of Zhangzha, which is close to the epicentre, was eerily quiet. Usually its streets are bustling with tourists, but now they are empty.
More than 50,000 tourists had been evacuated from the Jiuzhaigou area. The disaster deals an economic blow to Jiuzhaigou, a national park and Unesco World Heritage Site renowned in China, and whose mostly ethnic Tibetan and Qiang people depend heavily on income from visitors.
“There probably won’t be any more tourists the rest of the year. It may take two or three years for things to get back to normal,” Yang Siding, a Tibetan in his 30s, told AFP.
“We pretty much depend entirely on tourism to make a living. We have nothing else,” Yang, who runs a guest house, said while checking on his home following an aftershock.
Satellite images show multiple landslides, but no major buildings had collapsed or been severely damaged.
Meanwhile, a magnitude 4.9 earthquake hit Tokyo yesterday, but no tsunami warning was issued. Japan is one of the world’s most seismically active areas, accounting for about 20 per cent of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.