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A 7.1-magnitude earthquake strikes part of western China, injuring 6 people and collapsing 47 homes.

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BEIJING (AP) — A 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck a sparsely populated area in China's western Xinjiang region early Tuesday, injuring six people and damaging or collapsing more than 120 homes in frigid weather, it said. the authorities. The earthquake was the latest in a series of seismic events and natural disasters that struck the western regions of the vast country.

The China Earthquake Networks Center said that the earthquake shook Ochturbahn County in Aksu Province shortly after 2 a.m. About 200 rescuers were sent to the epicenter. The district is called Wuxi in Mandarin, which is spoken by most Chinese.

Of the six injured, two of them are in serious condition and four are in minor condition. In addition, 47 houses collapsed, 78 homes were damaged, and some agricultural structures collapsed, the government of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region posted on its official Weibo account.

Aksu authorities said that the earthquake led to the cutting of power lines, but electricity quickly returned. The population of mountainous Ochturbahn county was about 233,000 people in 2022, according to Xinjiang authorities.

The Urumqi Railway Office resumed services after 7 a.m. after safety checks confirmed that there were no problems on the train lines. The office serving the capital of Xinjiang said on its official Weibo account that the suspension affected 23 trains.

The US Geological Survey said that the magnitude of the earthquake reached seven degrees and occurred in the seismically active Tian Shan mountain range. The largest earthquake in the region in the past century measured 7.1 and occurred in 1978 about 200 kilometers (124 miles) to the north early Tuesday, she said.

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Several aftershocks were recorded, the strongest of which was 5.3 magnitude.

The rural area's population is mostly Uyghur, a predominantly Muslim Turkic ethnicity that has been the target of a government campaign of forced assimilation and mass detention. There is a heavy military presence in the area, and footage broadcast by the government CCTV channel showed paramilitary forces moving before dawn to remove the rubble and set up tents for the displaced.

Ochturbahn province is recording temperatures well below freezing, with the China Meteorological Administration forecasting it to drop to minus 18 degrees Celsius (just below zero Fahrenheit).

In Yunnan Province, southwest China, rescue workers are still searching for victims Buried by a landslide Monday in Liangshui Village. 11 bodies were recovered, and survivors were rescued from among 47 people buried in 18 homes amidst the extreme cold and falling snow.

The tremors resulting from Tuesday's earthquake were felt hundreds of kilometers away. Ma Shengyi, a 30-year-old pet store owner who lives in Taqing, 600 kilometers (373 miles) from the quake's epicenter, said her dogs started barking before they felt the tremor of their building. The earthquake was so strong that her neighbors ran downstairs. Ma ran to her bathroom and started crying.

“There is no sense in escaping if the earthquake is big,” Ma said. “I was scared to death.”

The official Xinhua News Agency reported that chandeliers swayed, buildings were evacuated, and a media office building near the epicenter shook for a full minute. A video posted by a Chinese netizen on Weibo showed residents standing outside in the streets wearing winter jackets, and a photo published by CCTV showed a cracked wall with pieces falling out.

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Tremors were felt throughout the Xinjiang region and in neighboring countries Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Russian news agency TASS reported that people left their homes in the Kazakh capital, Almaty. In both Xinjiang and Kazakhstan, classes have been suspended to allow children to recover from the shock.

Videos posted on messaging platform Telegram showed people in Almaty running down the stairs of apartment buildings and standing outside in the street after feeling strong tremors. Some people appeared to quickly leave their homes and were photographed standing outside in freezing temperatures while wearing shorts.

Earthquakes are common In western China, including the provinces of Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, and Yunnan, as well as the Xinjiang region and Tibet.

6.2 magnitude earthquake The earthquake that struck Gansu Province in December killed 151 people and was the deadliest earthquake China has seen in nine years. The 2008 Sichuan earthquake killed nearly 90,000 people. The collapse of schools and other buildings led to years-long efforts to rebuild using more earthquake-resistant materials.

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