In recent news, Chinese state media has reported a seismic event of magnitude 7.1 striking the Kyrgyzstan-Xinjiang border region, an incident that unfolded on January 23. This remote and sparsely populated area of China’s western Xinjiang region faced the brunt of nature’s force, with just six reported injuries amid freezing cold weather.
Authorities have shared that over 120 buildings suffered damage, including 47 houses that collapsed, and 78 houses left in a state of disrepair. Some greenhouses were reduced to mere plastic sheets and rubble.
The China Earthquake Administration pinpointed the epicenter at a depth of 22 km in the mountainous border area of Wushi County in northwest China’s Xinjiang region. Uchturpan county in Aksu prefecture experienced the quake shortly after 2 a.m., triggering a series of aftershocks, with 40 recorded by 8 a.m. (0000 GMT), according to the China Earthquake Networks Centre.
The government of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, through its official Weibo social media account, shared that among the six individuals injured, only two suffered serious injuries. The impact of the quake extended beyond human casualties, affecting more than 120 buildings, including collapsed houses and damaged structures. Greenhouses, essential for the local economy, were not spared, being reduced to plastic sheets and rubble.
Cities like Urumqi, Korla, Kashgar, Yining, and surrounding areas strongly felt the earthquake, as reported by netizens on China’s Weibo platform. In the aftermath, the Xinjiang railway department halted operations, affecting 27 trains, as confirmed by Xinhua. Despite downed power lines, prompt restoration efforts by Aksu authorities ensured a quick return of electricity.
Uchturpan county, with a population of approximately 233,000 in 2022, faced significant challenges in the wake of the earthquake. Emergency response services, activated by China’s Earthquake Administration in collaboration with the Office of the Earthquake Relief Headquarters and the Ministry of Emergency Management, played a crucial role.
Coordinated relief efforts included the provision of cotton tents, coats, quilts, mattresses, folding beds, and heating stoves, as reported by China’s Ministry of Emergency Management through Xinhua.
Xinjiang, no stranger to seismic activities, experienced another sizable earthquake in nearby Kazakhstan, registering a magnitude of 6.7. In Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, residents fled their homes and gathered outside despite the cold weather. Fortunately, no damage was reported. The tremors, followed by aftershocks, were also felt in Uzbekistan.
In the face of adversity, Xinjiang showcases resilience and a coordinated response, with authorities and relief efforts working hand in hand to mitigate the impact of the earthquake on the affected communities.