A 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck near the China-Kyrgyzstan border on Tuesday, as reported by various geographical monitoring groups, such as the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ).
The quake, which occurred just after 2:00 am local time (1800 GMT Monday), was centred in China’s Xinjiang region, approximately 140 kilometres west of Aksu city, at a depth of 27 kilometres.
The tremors were so powerful that they were felt as far away as New Delhi, India, situated about 1,400 kilometers from the epicenter. The seismic activity also extended its reach to Uzbekistan, where tremors and aftershocks were also felt approximately 30 minutes after the initial quake.
Local television stations in the Indian capital reported strong tremors, creating a wave of anxiety among residents.
A resident informed Xinhua, the state news agency, that amid the shaking, people rushed outside for safety, braving the early morning’s frigid temperatures of around -10 degrees Celsius.
In Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, people also fled their homes to seek refuge in the streets, as reported by an AFP journalist, following the quake that caused walls to shake and furniture to move.
Following the initial quake, the region experienced a series of aftershocks, with three more earthquakes recorded, measuring 5.5, 5.1, and 5.0 on the Richter scale. The USGS warned of potential widespread damage due to the quake’s magnitude and depth, although there were no immediate reports of casualties from the sparsely populated, mountainous area.
The USGS statement highlighted the potential for “significant damage” and noted that the disaster could be “potentially widespread.” This seismic activity raises concerns, especially in the wake of a landslide in southwest China just a day earlier, which buried dozens and claimed at least eight lives.
This recent earthquake echoes the tragedy of a December quake in northwest China’s Gansu province, which resulted in 148 deaths and displaced thousands. That event marked China’s deadliest earthquake since 2014, when over 600 people perished in Yunnan province.
The response to the December quake was complicated by harsh winter conditions, with survivors forced to gather around outdoor fires for warmth. The latest quake adds to a series of natural disasters China has faced, underlining the challenges in disaster management and response in the region’s diverse and often harsh geographical landscapes.
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