A significant earthquake strikes the Kyrgyzstan-Xinjiang border with a magnitude of 6 in the early hours of January 30, causing damage to over 120 buildings and injuring six people amidst freezing temperatures. The quake, initially reported by Chinese state media as having a magnitude of 7.1 occurred in a sparsely populated area of China’s western Xinjiang region.
According to the China Earthquake Administration, the epicentre of the earthquake strike on the Kyrgyzstan-Xinjiang border was located at a depth of 22 kilometres in Wushi County, within the mountainous terrain of northwest China’s Xinjiang. The tremors were strongly felt in Uchturpan county in Aksu prefecture just after 2 a.m., as the China Earthquake Networks Center reported.
Contrary to initial reports, the Xinjiang Earthquake Agency clarified that the epicentre was about 50 kilometres from Wushi, impacting five villages within a 20-kilometre radius. The quake led to the collapse of 47 houses, with an additional 78 houses sustaining damage.Greenhouses in the area were also severely affected, reduced to mere plastic sheets and rubble amidst the devastation.
In response to the disaster, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region government reported on its official Weibo account that out of the six individuals injured, two suffered severe injuries. The region experienced a series of aftershocks, with theChina Earthquake Networks Centre recording 40 aftershocks by 8 a.m. (0000 GMT).
The earthquake’s impact was widespread, with residents in Urumqi, Korla, Kashgar, Yining, and surrounding areas reporting strong tremors. The Xinjiang railway department took immediate precautionary measures by halting operations, affecting 27 trains as earthquake strikes the Kyrgyzstan-Xinjiang border.
Despite the downing of power lines, Aksu authorities swiftly restored electricity to the affected areas. Uchturpan County, known for its mountainous terrain, had a population of approximately 233,000 people in 2022.
In collaboration with the Office of the Earthquake Relief Headquarters and the Ministry of Emergency Management, China’s Earthquake Administration quickly activated emergency response services. Rescue efforts were supported by the dispatch of teams to the affected areas, providing essential relief materials such as cotton tents, coats, quilts, mattresses, folding beds, and heating stoves.
The earthquake in Xinjiang was part of a series of seismic activities in the region, with the Ministry of Emergency Management also reporting a magnitude 6.7 earthquake in nearby Kazakhstan. The tremors prompted residents in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, to evacuate and gather outdoors despite the chilly weather conditions. Fortunately, no damage was reported in Kazakhstan, and the tremors were felt as far as Uzbekistan.
This seismic event underscores the vulnerability of the region to natural disasters and the importance of prompt and coordinated emergency response efforts to mitigate the impact on affected communities.