, BEIJING, Nov 22 – A 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck China’s southwestern province of Sichuan on Saturday, the US Geological Survey said, with Chinese state media reporting one fatality.
The tremor shook buildings, toppling household items off shelves and sending panicked residents scurrying for cover, but no major damage was immediately reported.
The quake struck 39 kilometres (24 miles) northwest of Kangding in the mountainous west of the province at 0855 GMT at a depth of 14 kilometres, the USGS said.
The quake was initially reported at 5.8 magnitude at a depth of nine kilometres.
The official Xinhua news agency reported that a woman aged about 70 died after being hit in the head by a glass window that fell during the shaking.
China’s national CCTV television showed footage taken from a mobile phone of panicked residents scurrying about the streets in what appeared to be a commercial area.
Kangding county, with a population of about 100,000 people, is located in an area of Sichuan traditionally populated by ethnic Tibetans.
A woman reached by phone in the area told CCTV that buildings around her withstood the shaking. Xinhua reported minor cracks in some airport buildings, adding that flights had been unaffected.
But the quake was powerful and toppled household items onto the floor, Xinhua quoted a resident of Kangding as saying. He added, however, that he did not see any houses fall down.
The report also quoted a local doctor as saying that no injured people had yet visited her hospital.
“The house window was shaking fiercely,” said a woman in Chengdu, Sichuan’s capital, located around 300 kilometres from the epicentre.
China Earthquake Networks Center measured the quake at 6.3, according to Xinhua. China uses a different magnitude scale to the US.
China’s southwestern provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan are acutely vulnerable to earthquakes.
The region sees frequent seismic activity from the collision of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates, which form the vast Himalayan mountain range.
In May 2008, a 7.9 magnitude quake rocked Sichuan, killing more than 80,000 people and flattening swathes of the province. It was the worst quake disaster to hit China in more than three decades.
Last month, hundreds of people were injured and more than 100,000 displaced after a shallow 6.0 magnitude tremor hit Yunnan province, close to China’s borders with Myanmar and Laos.
And in August, a 6.1 magnitude quake struck Yunnan killing more than 600 people.
More than 3,000 people were injured, while more than 80,000 homes were completely or partially destroyed.
In 1976, the industrial city of Tangshan, 200 kilometres east of Beijing, was levelled by an earthquake measuring 7.5 according to the US Geological Survey.
Beijing puts the official death toll at 242,000, with 164,000 seriously injured, although Western sources say the number of victims could be much higher.