23 May 2024

BEIJING (AFP) – A strong 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck China’s southwestern Sichuan province on Monday (June 17), leaving at least six people dead and 75 others hurt, officials and state media said.

Rescuers were rushing to affected areas in heavy rain near the epicentre, which was located outside the city of Yibin, the Xinhua news agency reported.

The quake occurred at about 10.55pm local time at a depth of 16km, according to the China Earthquake Networks Centre.

A series of at least four aftershocks, the largest of which had a magnitude of 5.1, took place in the following 40 minutes.

The United States Geological Survey put the magnitude of the main quake at 5.8, adding that “extensive damage is probable and the disaster is likely widespread”.

The fatalities and injuries were all recorded in Changning and Gongxian counties, local officials said, according to Xinhua.

A hotel close to the epicentre collapsed, but it was not immediately clear if there were any casualties from that incident, the agency said. Cracks appeared in several area highways.

More than 300 firefighters have been dispatched to the scene. Rescue personnel were also sent with 5,000 tents, 10,000 folding cots and other emergency supplies, Xinhua reported.

Videos circulating on social media showed chandeliers and other light fixtures swaying from the shaking.

AFP was unable to independently verify the authenticity of the footage.

Earthquakes regularly strike Sichuan, where a powerful 7.9-magnitude quake left 87,000 people dead or missing in 2008.

In February, three earthquakes hit Rongxian county in the province, killing two people and injuring 12 others – casualties that residents blamed on fracking.

Local authorities later halted shale gas mining after thousands of residents protested.