8 dead, 20 injured after 5.5 magnitude earthquake hits China's Xinjiang region

The authorities say the search and rescue operations are on going on.

8 dead, 20 injured after 5.5 magnitude earthquake hits China's northwest
Representational Image Reuters

At least eight people died and another 20 were injured when an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.5 struck in China's northwest Xinjiang region on Thursday, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The China Earthquake Administration (CEA) said the quake occurred at 5:58 am (local time) in the remote Taxkorgan County area of Kashgar Prefecture at a depth of 8 km.

Several photos that were were circulated online from the official earthquake monitoring centre showed damaged buildings. One of those images showed one building had ceiling panels on the ground.

The Xinjiang Earthquake Administration said 23 people had been injured, including one who was in serious condition. It added that more than 180 houses had collapsed in the lightly populated area. Most houses in the area were made of wood and mudbricks or rock.

The authorities said the search and rescue operations are on going on. The exact number of casualties were still being compiled.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake was struck at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles). It explained that shallow quakes cause greater shaking at the surface, which can cause more damage.

Earthquakes are quite common in China's west and most of those cause little damage. However, the low population density there often means casualties are low. The county has a population of around 33,000, and is notable for being a stop on the Karakoram Highway, built along the ancient Silk Road connecting China's far western city of Kashgar to the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.

In 2003, a 6.8-magnitude quake in a nearby county to Thursday's quake killed 268 people.

The deadliest earthquake that took place in China in this century was when a 7.9 magnitude temblor with a depth of 19 kilometres (12 miles), struck Sichuan province in May 2008, killing nearly 90,000 people.