China earthquake: Strong 6.9-magnitude tremor jolts western Qinghai province

·2-min read
Poster showing China’s President Xi Jinping is seen next to a freeway outside of Tongren, Qinghai province on March 2, 2018 (AFP via Getty Images)
Poster showing China’s President Xi Jinping is seen next to a freeway outside of Tongren, Qinghai province on March 2, 2018 (AFP via Getty Images)

A strong earthquake measuring about 6.9 on the Richter scale jolted a remote county in northwest China’s Qinghai province early on Saturday, forcing the suspension of high-speed rail services due to tunnel damage and a number of injuries, authorities say.

While no deaths have been reported so far, several people with minor injuries in the Menyuan Hui Autonomous County have been treated and discharged, according to local news reports.

The 6.9-magnitude quake struck the mountainous part of the province at 1.45 am, with an epicentre at 37.77 degrees north latitude and 101.26 degrees east longitude, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC).

The quake was felt at least 140km away to the southeast in the provincial capital of Xining, where some people rushed outside of their homes.

A video posted online by local news broadcaster CGTN showed tiles falling off buildings and livestock suddenly standing up and moving in their pens, as well as lamps and other furniture swaying during the tremor.

The province activated a Level II emergency response – the second-highest in China’s four-tier earthquake emergency response system – after the quake hit the county.

Train services on some parts of the Lanzhou-Xinjiang high-speed railway line were suspended after the quake left several tunnels on the line damaged, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

Emergency response teams, including hundreds of firefighters from Qinghai and neighbouring Gansu province, have been sent to the epicentre and over 2,000 rescuers from neighbouring provinces are on standby.

The US Geological Survey said there was a 5.1 magnitude aftershock about 25 minutes after the quake, but added that there is a low likelihood of casualties.

“The number of people living near areas that could have produced landslides in this earthquake is low, but landslide damage or fatalities are still possible in highly susceptible areas,” it added.

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