Earthquake strikes southwest China, causing 7 deaths
An earthquake measuring 6.5 in magnitude struck a remote and mountainous part of the southwestern province of Sichuan on Tuesday, killing seven people and trapping 100 tourists in a popular scenic spot, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
The quake struck in a sparsely populated area 200 kilometres west-northwest of the city of Guangyuan at a depth of 10 kilometres, the USGS said. It had earlier put the quake at magnitude 6.6 and 32 kilometres deep.
The Sichuan earthquake administration said the epicentre of the tremor was in Ngawa prefecture, largely populated by ethnic Tibetans, many of whom are nomadic herders, but also close to the Jiuzhaigou nature reserve, a popular tourist destination.
At least five of the fatalities were tourists, according to the official People's Daily newspaper.
The provincial government said more than 88 other people were injured, 21 of them seriously.
Prelim M6.5 earthquake Sichuan-Gansu border region, China Aug-8 13:19 UTC, updates https://t.co/3CevfddwGQ— @USGSBigQuakes
Sichuan's government added that 100 tourists had been trapped by a landslide, but that there were no reports of any deaths or injuries yet.
Sichuan government spokesperson Chen Weide said it was unclear what had happened to them and whether they had been buried or were just trapped by a blocked road.
The official Xinhua news agency said the reception area in a hotel had collapsed, trapping some people, but that 500 had already been safely evacuated from the building.
Other state media quoted the hotel as saying everyone had been evacuated safely.
The area is frequently struck by earthquakes.
Cracked, collapsed houses
Pictures on state media-run social media sites showed some damage in Jiuzhaigou, with tiles having fallen from buildings and people gathering outdoors.
State television said electricity had now largely been restored to the affected areas and the military was also sending rescuers to help with relief efforts. Jiuzhaigou airport was operating as normal after the runway was checked for damage, the report added.
A police official told state television that there had been some panic among the tourists when the quake hit.
The Sichuan government said on one of its official social media sites that more than 38,000 tourists were currently visiting Jiuzhaigou.
Shaking was felt in the provincial capital Chengdu and as far away as Xian, home of the Terracotta Warriors, according to users of Chinese social media.
A quake in Sichuan in May 2008 killed almost 70,000 people.