Major 7.0 earthquake hits China-Kyrgyzstan border


A major 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck along the China-Kyrgyzstan border on Tuesday, the United States Geological Survey said, warning of potentially widespread damage though no casualties have been reported.

The quake was registered just after 2:00 am (1800 GMT Monday) at a depth of 13 kilometers in China’s Xinjiang region, some 140 kilometers (85 miles) west of the city of Aksu, where Chinese media reported heavy tremors were felt.

One resident told state news agency Xinhua that people rushed outside for safety amid the shaking, despite the frigid early morning temperatures hovering around -10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit).

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.

Local TV channels in the Indian capital New Delhi reported strong tremors in the city, about 1,400 kilometers away.

The epicentre of the quake was in Wushi County, Xinhua reported.

In the following hours, a slew of earthquakes followed in the area, with magnitudes as high as 5.5.

The USGS said casualties were possible, though none were immediately reported in the mountainous, rural area where the earthquake struck.

“Extensive damage is probable,” its report said.

Authorities in Kazakhstan also reported tremors, though without any casualties or major destruction confirmed so far.

In Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, citizens streamed outside following the quake, according to images posted on social media and by local news outlets.

Tuesday’s earthquake came the day after a landslide buried dozens of people and killed at least eight in the southwest of China.

A December quake in the northwest of the country killed 148 people and displaced thousands in Gansu province.

That quake was China’s deadliest since 2014, when more than 600 people were killed in southwestern Yunnan province.

In the December earthquake, subzero temperatures made the aid operation launched in response even more challenging, with survivors huddled around outdoor fires to keep warm.

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