BEIJING (AP) — A 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck a remote part of China's western Xinjiang region early Tuesday, downing power lines, destroying at least two homes and prompting authorities to suspend trains, state media reported.
Xinhua News Agency, citing the China Earthquake Network Center, said the earthquake struck Uchturban County (Wushi County in Mandarin) in Aksu Province just after 2 a.m. local time.
Aksu officials said two houses collapsed and 200 emergency rescue workers were sent to the epicenter, according to state broadcaster CCTV. The Xinjiang Railway Authority suspended dozens of trains in the region and sealed off affected areas, CCTV reported. Power lines were knocked down by the quake, but power was quickly restored in the area, Aksu officials said.
There was no immediate information on casualties.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake occurred in the Tian Shan mountain range, “an earthquake-prone region, although earthquakes of this magnitude are rare.” It said the 1978 magnitude 7.1 earthquake, 200 kilometers to the north, was the largest in the last century.
State broadcaster CCTV reported 14 aftershocks, two of which were over magnitude 5, after the main quake.
The quake hit the countryside, which is heavily populated by Uyghurs, an ethnic Turkic population that is mostly Muslim and has been the target of a state campaign of forced assimilation and mass detention in recent years.
Sub-zero temperatures were recorded in the epicenter of the quake in Uchuurban district, with the China Meteorological Administration predicting a low of minus 18 degrees Celsius (below zero F) this week. Parts of northern and central China are shivering under severe cold this winterOfficials are closing schools and highways multiple times because of the blizzard.
A video posted by a Chinese netizen on Weibo showed residents standing outside in winter jackets on the streets, and a photo posted by CCTV showed a cracked wall.
Tremors were felt as far away as neighboring Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Russian news agency TASS reported that people had fled their homes in the Kazakh capital Almaty.
Videos posted on social news site Telegram showed people in Almaty running down the stairs of apartments and standing outside in the street after they felt a strong tremor. Some appeared to have rushed out of their homes and stood outside in shorts in freezing temperatures.
There was an earthquake In China's northwestern Gansu province, 151 people were killed in December. It was China's worst earthquake in nine years.
Most earthquakes in China A strike in the western part of the country, including Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, as well as the Xinjiang region and Tibet.