7.1 strong magnitude 7.1 earthquake strikes remote western China

7.1 strong magnitude 7.1 earthquake strikes remote western China

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7.1 strong magnitude 7.1 earthquake strikes remote western China

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck a remote part of China’s western Xinjiang region early Tuesday, downing power lines, destroying homes and prompting authorities to suspend trains, state media reported.

Xinhua News Agency cited the China Earthquake Networks Center as saying the quake rocked Uchturpan county (Wushi county in Mandarin) in Aksu prefecture shortly after 2 a.m. local time.

A few buildings collapsed, Aksu authorities said, and around 200 emergency rescuers were dispatched to the quake’s epicenter, according to state broadcaster CCTV. The Xinjiang railway authority suspended dozens of trains in the region and sealed off the affected sections, CCTV reported. The quake downed power lines but electricity was quickly restored to the region, Aksu authorities reported.

There were no immediate reports of fatalities.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake occurred in the Tian Shan mountain range, “a seismically active region, though earthquakes of this size occur somewhat infrequently.” It said the largest quake in the area in the past century was a 7.1-magnitude one in 1978 about 200 kilometers to the north of one early Tuesday.

State broadcaster CCTV said there were 14 aftershocks since the main quake, with two registering above 5 magnitude.

The earthquake struck in a rural area populated mostly by Uyghurs, a Turkic ethnicity that is predominantly Muslim and has been the target of a state campaign of forced assimilation and mass detention in recent years.

Uchturpan county at the quake’s epicentre is recording temperatures well below zero, with lows of up to negative 18 degrees C (just below zero F) forecast by the China Meteorological Administration this week. Parts of northern and central China have shivered under frigid cold snaps this winter, with authorities closing schools and highways several times due to snowstorms.

The tremors were felt hundreds of kilometers (miles) away. Ma Shengyi, a 30-year-old pet shop owner living in Tacheng, 600 kilometers (373 miles) from the epicenter, said her dogs started barking before she felt her apartment building shudder. The quake was so strong her neighbors ran downstairs. Ma rushed to her bathroom and started to cry.

“There’s no point in running away if it’s a big earthquake,” Ma said. “I was scared to death.”

Chandeliers swung, buildings were evacuated and a media office building near the epicenter shook for a full minute, Xinhua reported. A video posted by a Chinese internet user on Weibo showed residents standing outside on the streets bundled in winter jackets, and a photo posted by CCTV showed a cracked wall with chunks fallen off.

Tremors were felt across the Xinjiang region and as far away as the neighboring countries Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. In the Kazakh capital of Almaty, people left their homes, the Russian news agency Tass reported.

Videos posted on the social messaging platform Telegram showed people in Almaty running down the stairs of apartment blocks and standing outside in the street after they felt strong tremors. Some people appeared to have left their homes quickly and were pictured standing outside in freezing temperatures in shorts.

An earthquake shook China’s northwestern Gansu province in December, killing 151 people. It was the deadliest earthquake in China in nine years.

Most of China’s earthquakes strike in the western part of the country, including Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, as well as the Xinjiang region and Tibet.