Around 21 people lost their lives in China after a 6.6 magnitude earthquake hit the southwestern Sichuan province on Monday. The earthquake which had a depth of 10 kilometers was recorded southwest of Chengdu, Sichuan's capital at 1pm local time. Six moderate aftershocks were felt until 4 pm local time, with earthquake authorities saying more is expected.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the epicentre was about 43 kilometers southwest of Kangding, a city of around 100,000 people. Local media reports say the impact severed telecommunications lines and triggered mountain landslides that caused serious damage.
Millions of residents in surrounding areas are said to have experienced moderate tremors in the aftermath of the earthquake. Buildings shook in Chengdu and Chongqing, roads were blocked cutting off access.
CGTN, a Chinese broadcaster, said shocks forced some power stations to shutdown in Garze and Ya'an. It highlighted that more than 500 rescue personnel have been deployed to the epicentre and workers are clearing roadblocks caused by the landslides.
It should be noted Sichuan was already challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. The province had been struggling with drought and heatwaves over the last two months.
In Sichuan's southeastern Ganzi prefecture, near the tourist hotspot Hailuogou National Geological Park, tremors were felt. In Luding county, three of the seven victims were park employees.
Wei Qing, leader of the provincial fire services rescue mission, said buildings and roads leading up to the area had sustained structural damage. He revealed life detector devices are being used to locate survivors trapped under collapsed homes. Cracks have appeared in buildings of Mianyang and Meishan. Three other provinces Yunnan, Shaanxi and Guizhou were also heavily jolted by the quake.
Meanwhile, social media users have criticized the government's strict COVID-19 restrictions. They said fire escapes were blocked and community staff would not let those under quarantine run outside safely.