At least 13 people were killed and over 175 injured after a 6.5 magnitude earthquake shook a mountainous region in southwestern China’s Sichuan province on Tuesday. China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported that at least five of the dead were tourists and 28 people had serious injuries. Power and phone networks were affected by the quake, reported The Associated Press. The quake also caused some damage to buildings in the area.
Following the earthquake, President Xi Jinping issued orders to respond to the quake and rescue the injured. Medical teams, rescuers and other resources were dispatched to the location by the authorities. The quake, which struck at around 9:20 pm Tuesday, affected the region bordered by the provinces of Sichuan and Gansu. Since the area is on the edge of the Tibetan plateau, it is home to many Tibetan and other ethnic-minority villages.
The region is also located close to the national reserve park Jiuzhaigou, or Jiuzhai Valley, which is known for its waterfalls and and karst formations. Xinhua also reported that more than 30,000 tourists at Jiuzhaigou had been relocated to safety. A worker at the Jiuzhaigou park told Xinhua that some houses in the tourist site collapsed or cracked following the quake and that authorities were organising evacuations of residents.
Jiuzhaigou also faced a massive power outage after the quake. “The tremors were very strong,” a woman in Jiuzhaigou town told AP. She added that the damage in the town center seemed minimal other than the suspension of electricity. “People from other regions are a pretty frightened,” she said.
“I was getting into a car at the time of the quake, and it felt like a heavy-duty truck roaring past,” said Liu Yanrong, a local township official, told Xinhua.
According to the US Geological Survey, the earthquake was 9 kilometers (5.5 miles) deep. However, the China Earthquake Networks Center contested that saying the 7.0 magnitude quake struck at a depth of 20 kilometers (12 miles). The epicenter was about 39 kilometers (24 miles) from the county of Jiuzhaigou, which has a population of around 80,000, and was 285 kilometers (177 miles) from Chengdu, the densely populated capital of Sichuan province, reported AP.
People took to social media to share photos showing buildings sustaining minor damages, rocks scattered on the road and people taking to the streets. Some of them also shared footage to show the impact of tremors. Xinhua said strong tremors could be felt in Chengdu. The Sichuan provincial government’s news website said that after the quake struck, a number of train services to Chengdu and other cities were suspended.
On Wednesday morning, another strong earthquake struck in far northwestern China, some 2,200 kilometers (1,360 miles) away. It was measured at magnitude 6.3 by USGS and 6.6 by China’s agency and was in a sparsely populated area of the Xinjiang region. No casualties have been reported there yet.