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7 dead as China’s Sichuan hit by province’s strongest quake since 2013

BEIJING — A strong earthquake struck China's Sichuan on Monday, the strongest to hit the province since 2013, with the shaking felt in the provincial capital of Chengdu and hundreds of kilometers away in the cities of Xian and Changsha.

At least seven people were killed, state media reported.

The China Earthquake Networks Center measures the magnitude at 6.8, while the US Geological Survey measures it at 6.6, and the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre at 6.2.

The epicenter was at the town of Luding at a depth of 16 km (10 miles), the China Earthquake Networks Center said, about 226 km (140 miles) southwest of Chengdu, a city of about 21 million people.

"The shaking was quite strong and it lasted for a while," said Shirley Li, who lives on the 30th floor of an apartment block in Chengdu, which is under a COVID-19 lockdown, after suffering summer heatwaves.

"It's been a hard time for us—heatwaves, the COVID-19 lockdown and now the earthquake."

An aftershock of a magnitude of 4.2 struck the city of Yaan, about 100 km (60 miles) southwest of Chengdu, minutes later.

Earthquakes are common in the southwestern province of Sichuan, especially its mountains in the west, a tectonically active area along the eastern boundary of the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau.

In Luding, the quake was so strong it was hard for some people to remain standing while cracks appeared on some houses, according to state media China News Service.

Video clips posted on social media showed lights swinging while people rushed out of buildings into the streets.

A total of 39,000 people live within a 20-km (12.5 miles) radius of the epicenter and 1.55 million within a 100-km (62 miles) radius, according to state television.

The quake was Sichuan's biggest since April 2013 when a magnitude 7.0 quake hit the city Yaan, killing more than 100 people and injuring thousands.

"We heard the alarm sound via speakers 20 or 30 seconds before the earthquake," said a Chengdu resident surnamed Yang.

Speakers broadcasting earthquake alarms are installed in communities and kindergartens and primary schools, Yang said.

The most powerful Sichuan earthquake on record was in May 2008 when a magnitude 8.0 quake centered in Wenchuan killed almost 70,000 people and caused extensive damage.

Monday's quake was felt as far away as Changsha in Hunan province and Xian in Shaanxi province hundreds of kilometers away, according to social media posts. — Reuters