An earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale struck the mountainous region along the Kyrgyzstan-China border, particularly affecting China’s western Xinjiang region.
The seismic event, which occurred shortly after 2 a.m. local time, has led to huge damage, injuries, and disruptions in the affected areas.
The earthquake’s epicenter was identified in Wushi County, also known as Uqturpan County, in Aksu prefecture, Xinjiang.
This remote, populated area experienced tremors with a magnitude of 7.1, according to the China Earthquake Administration. The depth of the earthquake was reported to be 22 kilometers, contributing to the seismic intensity.
The earthquake resulted in damage to the region’s infrastructure, causing the collapse of two houses and downing two major power lines near the epicenter.
Although electricity was restored, the Xinjiang railway authority took precautionary measures, sealing off affected routes and suspending 27 trains. Over 50 aftershocks, with magnitudes above 3, were reported as of 11 a.m. Tuesday.
Reports show that multiple injuries were sustained by residents in the affected areas, with at least six individuals reported injured.
Three people were hospitalized in a township located 26 kilometers from the epicenter, and rescues took place, including the extraction of a child from the rubble of a collapsed house.
With tremors felt in cities hundreds of miles away, such as Kashgar and Hotan in southern Xinjiang. Videos shared on social media platforms captured the intensity of the tremors, with lights swinging, buildings evacuated, and crowds seeking shelter in the streets.
The seismic waves even reached neighboring countries, as reported in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, where residents experienced the quake’s force.
The affected region, particularly Uchturpan county, is home to a Muslim Uyghur population. This people has faced challenges, including a Chinese government crackdown involving mass restrictions on religious and cultural practices.
The Chinese authorities activated emergency response services, coordinating efforts with the Office of the Earthquake Relief Headquarters and the Ministry of Emergency Management.
Rescue operations are underway, with nearly 200 rescue workers already dispatched to the affected areas and additional personnel being mobilized.
China’s Ministry of Emergency Management has coordinated efforts to provide essential supplies, including cotton tents, coats, quilts, mattresses, folding beds, and heating stoves.
These measures plans to alleviate the suffering of those displaced by the earthquake and facing freezing temperatures in the winter.
The earthquake occurred in the seismically active Tian Shan mountain range, a region prone to earthquakes but experiencing them somewhat infrequently.
The largest earthquake in the area in the past century was a 7.1-magnitude quake in 1978, located approximately 200 kilometers north of the recent event.
China has a history of seismic activity, with earthquakes being common in western regions such as Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan, Tibet, and Xinjiang.
The country has seen devastating earthquakes in the past, including the 2008 Sichuan earthquake that claimed nearly 90,000 lives.
Uchturpan county, where the epicenter is located, is recording temperatures well below freezing, with lows reaching negative 18 degrees Celsius.