A powerful earthquake registering a magnitude of 5.98, according to the BBC News, has hit China’s northwest Gansu province. At least 22 people have been killed according to CNN International, and earlier, state broadcast CCTV reported that another 279 people were injured by the intense quake.
There are fears the number will rise after a strong and shallow earthquake ripped through northwest China Monday morning, according to the Gansu provincial ministry of civil affairs.
The earthquake was near Dingxi city and was shallow with a depth of just 9.8 km (6 miles), according to the US Geological Survey.
The quake hit the province of Gansu around 7:45 a.m. local time, reports the state news agency Xinhua.
According to Dingxi local authorities, several houses have collapsed in the quake.
An earthquake in 2008 in Sichuan province left up to 90,000 people dead and millions homeless. While this latest quake has not resulted in as many deaths or as much destruction, it has still caused significant local casualties and deaths.
A statement on the Dingxi party website said that officials from the civil affairs, transportation and earthquake departments are visiting local towns to assess the damage.
The BBC’s Celia Hatton in Beijing reports that crews of fire fighters and rescue dogs have already arrived at the scene.
Hatton stated that the closer to the surface an earthquake strikes, the more damage it can cause.
The China Earthquake Administration said that it was sending disaster-relief teams to the area. According to Xinhua, the People’s Armed Police had already sent 500 people to the area, including 120 rescue workers, and that military units in the area were being prepared to help in relief work.
Communications were disrupted across a wide area, and mudslides were a continuing problem even after the initial earthquakes. The weather service in nearby Lanzhou, the provincial capital, also warned of extremely heavy rainstorms on Monday.
According to a clerk at Wuyang Hotel, about 40 km (25 miles) from the epicentre: “You could see the chandeliers wobble and the windows vibrating and making noise, but there aren’t any cracks in the walls.”
The clerk continued, saying: “Shop assistants all poured out onto the streets when the shaking began.”
The Gansu Provincial Seismological Bureau recorded its magnitude as 6.6, but the U.S. Geological Survey measured it as a 5.9-magnitude tremor. The earthquake struck at the relatively shallow depth of about half a mile (1 kilometer).
The United States Geological Survey listed three fairly strong earthquakes in Gansu Province on Monday morning, with magnitudes of 5.9, 5.6 and 4.7.
Xinhua said tremors were still being felt from the quake, , quoting sources within the Min County government. Locals said buildings and trees shook for about a minute.
Most of the deaths, according to CCTV, were recorded in Min with at least one in Zhang County.
The epicenter was eight miles (13 kilometers) east of Chabu and 110 miles (177 kilometers) south-southeast of Lanzhou, the USGS said.
Written by: Douglas Cobb