Two Chinese provinces hit by earthquakes, with three reported dead

A series of strong earthquakes has rattled north-west and south-west China, leaving at least three people dead.

Both Qinghai province in the north-west on the Tibetan plateau and Yunnan province in south-western China are prone to earthquakes. And both tremors were shallow, which generally means they cause more damage.

The Yunnan quake, which had a magnitude of 6.1, struck first at 9.48pm on Friday (1348 GMT) near the city of Dali, a popular tourist destination, the US Geological Survey said. It was followed by at least two aftershocks.

Three people died and 27 were injured, local authorities told state broadcaster CCTV on Saturday.

Then a few hours later, at 1804 GMT, more than 1,200km away, a 7.3-magnitude quake jolted China’s sparsely populated Qinghai province in the north-west, followed by an aftershock.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage from the remote area. State news agency Xinhua said the epicentre was located in Maduo county.

In Yunnan, the provincial government said some buildings had collapsed and others had been damaged, and that the “disaster situation was undergoing further verification”. More than 20,000 people had been evacuated, it said. More than 100,000 people live in the area, the great majority in rural communities.

Local media published videos showing ceiling lamps swinging and vases falling off shelves, as well as groups of people who had run outdoors after hearing the quake.

The China Earthquake Networks Centre (CENC) warned people to “stay away from buildings” in a post on the Twitter-like Weibo platform. The quake monitor said the earthquake followed a series of smaller quakes less than an hour before.

China is regularly hit by earthquakes, especially in its mountainous western and south-western regions. A powerful 7.9-magnitude quake in Sichuan province in the south-west in 2008 left 87,000 people dead or missing.

In February 2003, a powerful 6.8-magnitude quake killed 268 in Xinjiang and caused significant damage. In 2010, a 6.9-magnitude quake in Qinghai left 3,000 people dead or missing, and in October 2014, hundreds of people were injured and more than 100,000 displaced after a 6.0-magnitude tremor hit Yunnan, close to China’s borders with Myanmar and Laos. (Courtesy The Guardian)