Shallow quake hits Sichuan, southwest China

BEIJING, China (AFP) — A shallow 6.1 magnitude quake struck the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan on Wednesday, China’s earthquake agency reported, with no immediate reports of damage.

The quake struck a sparsely populated area in Lushan County of Ya’an City, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of the provincial capital Chengdu.

The China Earthquake Networks Center said the epicentre was at a depth of 17 kilometres, according to state news agency Xinhua.

The US Geological Survey said the quake registered a magnitude of 5.9 and was more shallow, occurring at a depth of 10 kilometres (6.2 miles).

The quake struck at about 5 pm local time and there were no immediate details of casualties or property damage reported.

But it was felt in cities across the province, state media reported.

Sichuan authorities said some buildings were damaged but there were no reports of any collapsing or people being trapped.

Mountainous Sichuan province — home to China’s famous giant pandas and a popular tourist destination — is an earthquake-prone area.

A shallow quake on the border of Sichuan and neighbouring Yunnan province in January this year injured more than 20 people.

Last September three people were killed and dozens injured when another shallow quake-hit Sichuan province, damaging tens of thousands of homes.

And a magnitude 8.0 quake in 2008 in Sichuan’s Wenchuan county caused enormous damage and cost tens of thousands of lives.

Among them were thousands of children, killed when poorly constructed school buildings collapsed, but the government failed to release an exact number of dead as the issue took on a political dimension.

© Agence France-Presse