Beijing: A 7.0 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday night rattled Jiuzhaigou county in China’s southwestern Sichuan province, killing at least five people and injuring 63 others.
Citing a statement issued by the China Earthquake Networks Centre (CENC), the state-run Xinhua news agency reported that the quake occurred around 9.19 pm (local time) and struck at a depth of 20km.
State-run television confirmed that five people were killed and 63 others injured in the quake while officials say the toll could be much higher. The dead were all tourists, it said. The condition of 30 injured was serious.
At least 106 aftershocks were recorded as of 11 pm (local time), according to CENC.
A total of 610 fire officers and soldiers, and eight sniffer dogs were dispatched to the scene after the quake, Xinhua reported.
The China Earthquake Administration has activated level-I emergency response procedures following the earthquake. China has a four-level earthquake emergency response system, with level-I being the top.
Work teams have been sent to the affected area to carry out emergency operations, the local administration said.
An employee at the Jiuzhaigou National Park said homes had collapsed in one of the valleys, and buildings were being evacuated, according to a report. The park said it had 38,799 visitors in the day.
Photos posted on social media showed shattered windows, damaged walls and people standing in the street.
Sangey, a staff worker with the popular Jiuzhaigou tourist site, told Xinhua over telephone that some houses in the scenic spot collapsed and authorities are organising young people to help evacuate residents.
Li Changyong, head of the Jiuzhaigou county health and family planning bureau, said the quake was strongly felt in the county seat, 35km from the epicentre, and many residents rushed outside their buildings.
Yu Qian, a local taxation bureau official, said she felt strong tremor in her home on the fifth floor. Yu said the power was cut off in her neighbourhood and quake disrupted telephone service linking the scenic area where some of her colleagues worked and lived.
The quake was also strongly felt in the provincial capital Chengdu, about 300km south of the epicentre. Jiuzhaigou, or Jiuzhai Valley, is a national park known for spectacular waterfalls and karst formations. PTI