Powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake strikes western China

Date:

A powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck a sparsely populated part of China’s western Xinjiang region early on January 23, 2024, injuring six people and damaging or collapsing more than 120 homes in freezing cold weather. The quake rocked Uchturpan county, called Wushi county in Mandarin, in Aksu prefecture shortly after 2 a.m., according to the China Networks Center.

Key Points

  • Magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck a remote part of China’s western Xinjiang region.
  • Injured six people, with two having serious injuries and four being minor.
  • Damaged or collapsed more than 120 homes in freezing cold weather.
  • Earthquakes are common in western China, including in Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces, as well as the Xinjiang region and Tibet.
  • The quake was felt hundreds of kilometers (miles) away.

Impact and Rescue Efforts

The earthquake caused significant damage, with 47 houses collapsing, 78 houses being damaged, and some agricultural land being affected. Around 200 rescuers were dispatched to the epicenter of the earthquake. The Urumqi Railroad Bureau suspended dozens of trains in the region and sealed off the affected areas. The quake downed power lines, but electricity was quickly restored to the region.

Earthquakes in Western China

Earthquakes are common in western China, including in Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces, as well as the Xinjiang region and Tibet. A 6.2 magnitude that struck Gansu in December killed 151 people and was China’s deadliest. An earthquake that hit Sichuan in 2008 killed nearly 90,000 people.

Aftershocks and Future Concerns

The U.S. Geological Survey reported that the quake occurred in the Tian Shan mountain range, a seismically active region where of this size occur somewhat infrequently. Since the main quake, there have been 14 aftershocks, with two registering above 5 magnitude. The Xinjiang railway authority suspended dozens of trains in the region, and the U.S. Geological Survey said the area’s largest quake in the past century was 7.1 magnitude and occurred in 1978.

Relief Efforts and Support

Several departments coordinated relief efforts, providing cotton tents, coats, quilts, mattresses, folding beds, and heating stoves. Nearly 40 aftershocks up to 5.3 magnitude have been recorded till 8 a.m. (local time). China’s Ministry of Emergency Management said several departments coordinated relief efforts, providing cotton tents, coats, quilts, mattresses, folding beds, and heating stoves

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