Quake kills 13 people in China
BEIJING — An earthquake shook a mountainous region in southwestern China near a national park Tuesday evening, killing 13 people, injuring 175 others and knocking out power and phone networks.
Five of the dead were tourists, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported early today, citing the information office of the Sichuan provincial government. The government in Aba prefecture in Sichuan province said 28 people were seriously injured.
Chinese President Xi Jinping called for rapid efforts to respond to the quake and rescue the injured. Authorities sent medical teams, rescuers and other resources.
The magnitude-6.5 quake struck a region bordered by the provinces of Sichuan and Gansu at a depth of just 5.5 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage than deeper ones.
The China Earthquake Networks Center measured the earthquake at magnitude 7.0 and said it struck at a depth of 12 miles. The quake occurred about 9:20 p.m. near Jiuzhaigou, or Jiuzhai Valley, a national park known for its waterfalls and karst formations, the Chinese agency said.
The area is on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau in northern Sichuan province, home to many Tibetan and other ethnic minority villages.
A man surnamed Song who answered the phone at an emergency office in Aba prefecture, where the Jiuzhaigou national park is located, said the nearby town of Zhangzha had reported the deaths and injuries. Song did not say where the five tourists who died were from.
About seven hours after the earthquake, another quake struck in northwestern China, some 1,360 miles away. That earthquake, which struck this morning and measured at magnitude 6.3 by the U.S. Geological Survey and 6.6 by China’s agency, was centered in a rural area of the Xinjiang region, near the border with Kazakhstan.
It was immediately followed by aftershocks, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.
Earthquakes are common in China’s west, although the low population density there often means casualties are low. China’s deadliest earthquake this century, a magnitude-7.9 temblor with a depth of 12 miles, struck Sichuan province in May 2008, killing nearly 90,000 people.
The epicenter in Tuesday’s quake was about 24 miles from the county of Jiuzhaigou, which has a population of about 80,000, in an area that’s 6,562 feet above sea level. It was 177 miles from Chengdu, the densely populated capital of Sichuan province, according to the Chinese earthquake center.
The Xinhua News Agency 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.
Jiuzhaigou county was suffering from widespread power failure after the quake, Song said. Area officials were being sent to Zhangzha, which was closest to the quake’s epicenter.
“The tremors were very strong,” said a woman in Jiuzhaigou town who gave only her surname, Wang, and said she worked for a travel company. She said the damage in the town center seemed minimal other than the suspension of electricity.
“People from other regions are pretty frightened,” Wang said.
Yu Qian, an area taxation bureau official, told Xinhua that she felt strong shaking that sent her and her two children rushing from their home on the fifth floor of a building. Yu said the quake cut off power in her neighborhood and disrupted telephone service.
“I was getting into a car at the time of the quake, and it felt like a heavy duty truck roaring past,” Liu Yanrong, a township official, told Xinhua.
Rescuers work at a tourist site at a national park early today in Zhangzha in southwestern China after a strong quake.