Wednesday Briefing: The Aftermath of China’s Quake


The 5.9-magnitude earthquake that struck northwest China overnight on Monday has killed more than 120 people and injured more than 500 others, officials and state media said yesterday. The quake damaged 15,000 houses and knocked out water, electricity and transportation links in some parts of the region.

Like much of China, the region is enduring sudden cold weather. The temperature during the quake in Jishishan County, the epicenter, was almost -20 degrees Celsius, or about -4 degrees Fahrenheit, according to state media. People who said they were at the quake site reported that they had started bonfires in their yards or set cardboard boxes on fire to stay warm.

Background: Gansu Province was hardest hit, and is one of China’s poorest areas. Parts of the mountainous region fall within a belt prone to earthquakes and many houses may not be built sturdily enough to resist them, a professor at China University of Geosciences said.

What’s next: Hours after the quake, rescuers were still digging out people, according to state media. The government deployed teams to the site to oversee the rescue operation, and China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, ordered workers to repair infrastructure as quickly as possible.

U.S. voters broadly disapprove of the way President Biden is handling the war in Gaza as the conflict grinds into its third month.

Younger Americans are far more critical than older voters of both Israel’s conduct and of the administration’s response, a New York Times/Siena College poll found. Nearly three quarters of voters between 18 and 29 years old — traditionally a demographic that leans heavily Democratic — disapprove of the Biden administration’s response.

A total of 44 percent of Americans said Israel should stop its military campaign to protect against civilian casualties while 39 percent believe Israel should continue, even if it means that civilian casualties — already totaling nearly 20,000 — continue to rise.

In Israel, polls are less ambivalent: The consensus is that the country needs to take a harder line with the Palestinians. While public opinion of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is faltering, support for his right-wing government’s policies is growing.

Takeaway: The fractured views on the conflict among younger voters in the U.S. show the difficulty Biden faces ahead of next year’s election. The Times poll found that, for the first time, Donald Trump leads Biden among young voters.

Other developments linked to the Israel-Hamas war:

A volcano in southwestern Iceland, the country’s most populated region, began erupting Monday. In an initial assessment, volcanologists said that the eruption had posed a significant and immediate threat to the Svartsengi Power Plant and the town of Grindavík, which was evacuated last month because of heightened seismic activity.

After experts flew over the site of the eruption, the situation didn’t appear as dire as initially feared. However, the size of the eruption was larger than anticipated, and the direction of the lava’s flow remained unpredictable. Here’s what to know about the volcano eruption.

Every December, Times editors try to capture the best of our photojournalism in one intense presentation: The Year in Pictures. The project is a way to commemorate the big news events: the ones that traumatized us mixed in with some moments of bliss. Take a look.

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