BEIJING – On Monday, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck China’s Sichuan province, the strongest to hit the province since 2013, causing shaking in Chengdu and hundreds of kilometers away in the cities of Xian and Changsha.
There were no immediate reports of casualties, but the media did report some damage.
According to the China Earthquake Networks Centre, the epicenter was in the town of Luding at a depth of 16 km (10 miles), about 226 km (140 miles) southwest of Chengdu, a city of about 21 million people.
“The shaking was quite strong and it lasted for a while,” said Shirley Li, who lives on the 30th floor of an apartment block in Chengdu, which is under a COVID-19 lockdown, after suffering summer heatwaves.
“It’s been a hard time for us – heatwaves, the COVID lockdown and now the earthquake.”
An aftershock of a magnitude of 4.2 struck the city of Yaan, about 100 km (60 miles) southwest of Chengdu, minutes later.
Earthquakes are common in the southwestern province of Sichuan, especially its mountains in the west, a tectonically active area along the eastern boundary of the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau.
In Luding, the quake was so strong it was hard for some people to remain standing while cracks appeared on some houses, according to state media China News Service.
Video clips posted on social media showed lights swinging while people rushed out of buildings into the streets.
A total of 39,000 people live within a 20-km (12.5 miles) radius of the epicentre and 1.55 million within a 100-km (62 miles) radius, according to state television.
The quake was Sichuan’s biggest since April 2013 when a magnitude 7.0 quake hit the city Yaan, killing more than 100 people and injuring thousands.
“We heard the alarm sound via speakers 20 or 30 seconds before the earthquake,” said a Chengdu resident surnamed Yang.
Speakers broadcasting earthquake alarms are installed in communities and kindergartens and primary schools, Yang said.
The most powerful Sichuan earthquake on record was in May 2008 when a magnitude 8.0 quake centred in Wenchuan killed almost 70,000 people and caused extensive damage.
Monday’s quake was felt as far away as Changsha in Hunan province and Xian in Shaanxi province hundreds of kilometres away, according to social media posts. – REUTERS