Given how sparsely populated much of far western China is, the 6.9 earthquake that has struck in Qinghai on the Tibetan plateau has caused extensive devastation, even though the number of fatalities reported initially is relatively low at 400. One in ten of the stricken area’s population has been injured. Both figures are expected to rise as many remain buried under the debris. Destruction of property, including the collapse of at least one school, killing five children, is widespread, which will draw inevitable comparisons with the 2008 Sichuan quake. The remoteness of the area, foul weather and a series of strong aftershocks is hampering rescue efforts for what has been the strongest quake to have hit the remote mountainous area since 1976.