Earthquake: Chinese state media has reported a 7.1 magnitude earthquake hitting the Kyrgyzstan-Xinjiang border region, a thinly populated area in China’s western Xinjiang region, on January 23. Despite freezing temperatures, authorities noted only six injuries. The earthquake caused damage to over 120 buildings, with 47 houses collapsing, 78 houses sustaining damage, and some greenhouses reduced to plastic sheets and rubble.
As per the China Earthquake Administration, the epicenter of the earthquake is situated 22 km deep in the mountainous border region of Wushi County in northwest China’s Xinjiang. The quake shook Uchturpan county in Aksu prefecture shortly after 2 a.m., as reported by the China Earthquake Networks Center. Nonetheless, according to the Xinjiang Earthquake Agency, the epicenter is approximately 50 km away from Wushi, and within a 20 km radius around the epicenter, there are five villages, as per Xinhua News. As of 8 a.m. (0000 GMT), the China Earthquake Networks Centre, as cited by Hindustan Times, reported the occurrence of 40 aftershocks.
The Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region government, on its official Weibo social media account, shared that out of the six injured individuals, only two sustained serious injuries. The damage assessment includes over 120 buildings affected, with 47 houses collapsing, 78 houses experiencing damage, and some greenhouses reduced to plastic sheets and rubble. Netizens on China’s Weibo social media platform reported strong tremors in Urumqi, Korla, Kashgar, Yining, and nearby regions due to the earthquake. Following the seismic event, the Xinjiang railway department promptly halted operations, impacting 27 trains, as per Xinhua.
The earthquake caused power lines to fall, but Aksu authorities promptly restored electricity. As per Xinjiang authorities, the mountainous Uchturpan county had an approximate population of 233,000 in 2022. Following the tremors, China’s Earthquakes Administration, in collaboration with the Office of the Earthquake Relief Headquarters and the Ministry of Emergency Management, activated emergency response services. Additionally, a team was dispatched to guide local rescue efforts.
Various departments collaborated on relief initiatives, supplying items such as cotton tents, coats, quilts, mattresses, folding beds, and heating stoves, according to China’s Ministry of Emergency Management, as reported by Xinhua. Xinjiang has experienced several significant earthquakes in the past 24 hours. The emergency ministry documented the most recent earthquake as registering a magnitude of 6.7 in nearby Kazakhstan. Residents evacuated their homes, assembling outside despite the cold weather. In Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, some were seen in pajamas and slippers. Fortunately, no damage has been reported.
The tremors, along with subsequent aftershocks occurring approximately 30 minutes later, were also experienced in Uzbekistan.