An earthquake in China’s southwestern province of Sichuan left at least 3 people dead and 60 injured on September 16th, according to China’s state-run media.
Local authorities put the quake at 6.0-magnitude, while the US Geological Survey (USGS) put it at 5.4-magnitude on an 8-point scale.
The quake hit in the early hours of the morning, with the epicenter located about 52 kilometers (32.3 miles) southwest of Yongchuan district in Chongqing, with an initial depth of 10 kilometers, according to USGS.
The earthquake left at least 1,221 collapsed houses and more than 3,000 severely damaged homes, according to the Global Times.
“I woke up to the tremor and saw the chandelier in my room swinging dramatically and the writing desk was shaking,” one resident, surnamed Tang, told the Global Times. “It’s been a long time since an earthquake of this magnitude has occurred.”
Chinese authorities launched rescue efforts in the morning, with the provincial government activating a level 2 response, the second highest in China’s four-tier earthquake emergency response system, according to Xinhua.
Luzhou City, home to about five million residents, was among the hard-hit areas. Thousands of soldiers and emergency workers have been sent on rescue efforts, along with rescue equipment, medical supplies, makeshift surgical vehicles and heavy machinery. Tents have been set up for evacuees in a nearby village.
Experts say a more serious earthquake is unlikely, though there may be aftershocks, Xinhua reported.
Sichuan is located along one of several seismic belts in China, which makes it prone to earthquakes. One local employee in Luzhou told the Global Times that though residents are used to earthquakes, they are usually of a lower magnitude — and Thursday’s quake was much stronger than average.
A number of major earthquakes have taken place along the Longmenshan Fault which runs through Sichuan’s mountains. That’s where the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake struck.
The Wenchuan earthquake hit a devastating 7.9-magnitude — near the top of the scale — which killed almost 90,000 people, and caused tremors in cities more than 900 miles away. Even 10 years later, not all the damage has been repaired from the earthquake site.
The 2008 earthquake also highlighted poor constructions standards and building regulations. The government eventually tightened regulations and strengthened enforcement after a period of public outrage from the government’s crackdown on activists and critics.
Since 2008, the country has invested heavily in disaster preparedness, retrofitting buildings in quake-prone areas and implementing regular earthquake drills for emergency workers and schoolchildren. Beijing has also directed tens of millions of dollars to developing seismic science and satellites, according to Reuters.