BEIJING: A major 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck along the mountainous China-Kyrgyzstan border on Tuesday (Jan 23), triggering warnings of potentially widespread damage though no casualties were immediately reported.
Local authorities dispatched a team to reach the quake’s epicentre, the Xinhua state news agency said, while some 800 people were on stand-by ready for any large disaster relief mission.
The quake was registered just after 2.00am (1800 GMT Monday) at a depth of 13km in China’s Xinjiang region, some 140km west of the city of Aksu.
Two residential houses and livestock sheds collapsed in the area near the epicentre, in rural Wushi County, Xinhua reported, while electricity was temporarily knocked out.
Local TV channels in the Indian capital New Delhi reported strong tremors in the city, about 1,400km away.
One Aksu resident told Xinhua that people rushed outside for safety amid the shaking, despite the frigid early morning temperatures hovering around -10 degrees Celsius.
Cao Yanglong, in the city on a business trip, told the state news agency that while on the 21st floor of a hotel, he felt like he was “going to be shaken out of bed”.
People also fled their homes to seek refuge in the street in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek, according to an AFP reporter, after the quake caused walls to shake and furniture to shift.
Bohobek Azhikeev, head of the Kyrgyz Ministry for Emergency Situations, said in a video message that “no casualties or damage have been registered in the city of Bishkek”.
Five villages are located within 20km of the epicentre, according to Xinhua, and a slew of small earthquakes followed in the area, with magnitudes as high as 5.5.
“Extensive damage is probable,” the United States Geological Survey report on the earthquake said.