Around fifty people were injured on Tuesday in Kazakhstan's largest city and in China after a magnitude 7 earthquake that was also felt in neighboring Kyrgyzstan in this region, where the earth trembles regularly.
The earthquake was recorded by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) shortly after 2 a.m. Tuesday (6 p.m. GMT Monday) at a depth of 27 kilometers in China's Xinjiang (West) region, about 140 kilometers west of the city of Aksu.
In China, authorities in Akqi province said six people were injured, two of whom are in serious condition, while 47 buildings collapsed and 78 were damaged in the country, according to a statement from authorities.
In Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city where two million residents live on 27 tectonic faults, “44 people have requested medical attention for various injuries,” the health ministry said on Tuesday, saying eight of them were still in hospital.
Images published in local media show Almaty residents on the streets after the tremors in the middle of the night, even as temperatures once again fell below minus ten degrees.
Other videos show large traffic jams at the exit of this city, which was devastated three times in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Still, the Central Asian country's authorities assured that triggering sirens to call on people to shelter in place was not necessary and would only have “led to more unrest.”
On Tuesday morning, at around 10 a.m. local time (4 a.m. GMT), the Kazakh Seismological Authority reported two new earthquakes of magnitude 5.2 and 5.3 in the same area, which were felt in Almaty, particularly quiet and where schools were closed, remarked an AFP correspondent.
The Kazakh Presidency also announced the arrival of President Kassym-Jomart Tokaïev in Almaty on Wednesday and Thursday, noting that this visit had been planned for a long time.
In Kyrgyzstan, the Ministry of Emergency Situations said the earthquake caused no casualties or damage despite the “particularly strong” tremors.
In Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital, residents fled their homes to seek refuge on the streets, according to an AFP journalist. And the force of the earthquake shook the walls, knocking over dishes and books while moving furniture, she noted.
In India, local television stations reported tremors in the capital New Delhi, around 1,400 kilometers away.
Shortly thereafter, three aftershocks were recorded in the region with magnitudes of 5.5, 5.1 and 5.0, the USGS added.
“Significant damage is likely and the disaster may be widespread,” the American institute estimated in its first report.
This earthquake occurred a day after a landslide in southwestern China that buried dozens of people and left at least eight dead.
In December, a severe earthquake struck in the northwest of the country, leaving 148 people dead and thousands homeless in Gansu (northwest) province.
The earthquake was the worst in China since 2014, when more than 600 people died in Yunnan province in the southwest of the country.