A powerful 7-magnitude earthquake has struck the Xinjiang region near China’s border with Kyrgyzstan, causing widespread damage and triggering tremors felt as far away as Central Asian countries. The earthquake occurred in the early hours of Tuesday in Wushi County, also known as Uqturpan County, in China’s far western Xinjiang region.
According to reports from state-run news agency Xinhua, the earthquake resulted in multiple injuries and caused significant destruction in the affected area. Two houses collapsed, and two major power lines were downed near the epicenter. However, electricity was quickly restored following the incident. The Xinjiang railway authority took immediate action by sealing off routes in the affected areas and suspending 27 trains.
State broadcaster CCTV reported that three people were hospitalized in a township located 26 kilometers (16 miles) from the epicenter. Rescue operations are underway, with nearly 200 workers dispatched to the affected zone, and additional personnel being assembled.
The earthquake’s epicenter is situated in a remote, mountainous region with a sparse population at an altitude of over 3,000 meters (9,842 feet). Within a 20-kilometer radius of the epicenter, five villages are located, while the main urban area of Wushi county is approximately 50 kilometers away. The quake’s impact extended to cities hundreds of miles away, including Kashgar and Hotan in southern Xinjiang, where intense tremors were felt.
Videos shared on Chinese social media platforms depicted lights swinging, objects crashing onto the floor, and people seeking shelter in the streets, bundled up in winter jackets and blankets due to plummeting temperatures as low as -10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit). The earthquake’s effects were also felt in neighboring countries such as Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.
It is worth noting that the affected region in Xinjiang is home to a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority called the Uyghurs, who have faced a Chinese government crackdown in recent years. The United Nations has accused China of committing serious human rights violations against the Uyghur population, including mass detention and restrictions on religious and cultural practices.
This earthquake comes just a month after a powerful tremor struck northwest China, claiming the lives of 151 individuals in the provinces of Gansu and Qinghai. The latest earthquake serves as a reminder of the region’s susceptibility to seismic activity.
Rescue and relief efforts are ongoing as authorities work to assess the full extent of the damage caused by the earthquake and provide assistance to those affected.