Earthquake rattles remote part of China's Sichuan province; 7 dead, 100 tourists trapped
As per Xinhua, the earthquake hit Jiuzhaigou County at 9:19 pm (Beijing Time).
Beijing: At least seven people were killed after an earthquake measuring 6.5 in magnitude struck China`s remote and mountainous southwestern province of Sichuan on Tuesday.
As per the US Geological Survey, the quake hit a sparsely populated area 200 km (120 miles) west-northwest of the city of Guangyuan at a depth of 10 km (6 miles). The agency had earlier put the quake at magnitude 6.6 and 32 km deep.
As per China Earthquake Networks Center, the quake was of 7.0-magnitude.
President Xi Jinping has called for all-out efforts to rapidly organise relief work and rescue the injured people. Meanwhile, the Western Theater Command of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has activated an emergency response.
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.
State television said seven people had been killed and 88 were injured, 21 of them seriously. The official People`s Daily said five of the dead were tourists.
But China`s National Commission for Disaster Reduction estimated that as many as 100 people may have perished, based on 2010 census data of the region.
Over 130,000 houses may be damaged, it added in a statement posted on its website, based on a preliminary analysis of the disaster in a remote region of Sichuan province.
Meanwhile, Sichuan`s government added that 100 tourists had been trapped by a landslide, but that there were no reports of any deaths or injuries amongst them yet.
Sichuan government spokesman Chen Weide said it was unclear at present 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 people had already been safely evacuated from the building.
While there was no confirmation of their nationalities, few foreign tourists go to such remote areas, meaning the dead were likely to be Chinese.
The quake occurred at around 9.20 pm (1320 GMT), not far from the site of a massive 8.0-magnitude earthquake that struck in 2008 leaving 87,000 people dead or missing.
Notably, the area is frequently struck by earthquakes.
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.
Over 600 fire officers and soldiers have been deployed, the People`s Daily newspaper said.
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.
The affected region, Jiuzhaigou county, includes one of the country`s most famous national parks, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for karst formations and lakes.
(With Agency inputs)