At least 10 people were injured and several houses collapsed when a 5.3-magnitude quake jolted a town in southwest China, where country’s second biggest dam is located.
The tremor shook Yongshan County in Yunnan Province at 6:40 a.m. (local time) in Xiluodu township with its epicentre 13 km deep, the China Earthquake Networks Centre said.
Two of the injured were in a serious condition, the county government officials said.
Yongshan is home to the Xiluodu hydropower project, China’s second largest hydropower station, only 15 km from the epicentre.
The shallow quake brought down at least 20 structures while two roads were blocked as rocks roll down the mountains in the area. One of the roads has since been reopened.
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Communications in the area, however, were not affected, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
“We felt the quake strongly, but it did not last long,” said a local resident.
Residents ran out of their homes after they were woken up by the tremor this morning.
Authorities have sent 400 tents and quilts for displaced residents and several thousands more have been made ready.
Zhang Jianguo of Yunnan Disaster Prevention Research Institute denied any evidence linking the quake to Xiluodu power station after rumours were afloat linking the two.
The area has a history of quakes, Zhang said.
Quakes caused by reservoirs usually have quite shallow epicentres, at a depth of around 4 km, while the epicentre of today’s quake was 13 km deep.
Study of the relationship between quakes and hydropower projects remains an important area of research.
Yunnan and neighbouring Sichuan Province are vulnerable to earthquakes.
Multiple earthquakes struck Yiliang county and its neighbouring areas in Yunnan and Guizhou provinces in September 2012, killing 81 people.
A 7.0-magnitude quake hit Lushan, Sichuan on April 20, 2013, killing at least 196 people.
On May 12, 2008, a huge 8.0-magnitude quake hit Wenchuan in Sichuan province leaving more than 80,000 people dead or missing.