Shallow M5.8 earthquake hits China, red pager alert, damage, deaths reported


A strong and shallow earthquake registered by the USGS as M5.8 hit China's Sichuan province at 14:55 UTC (22:55 local time) on June 17, 2019. The agency is reporting a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles). EMSC registered it at M5.9 at a depth of 10 km. China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC) reports M6.0 at a depth of 16 km (9.9 miles).

The epicenter was located 24 km (15 miles) ESE of Xunchang (population 64 580), 52 km (32 miles) SE of Yibin (population 242 111) and 105 km (65 miles) S of Zigong (population 689 961), China.

There are 10 810 000 people living within 100 km (62 miles).

58 000 people are estimated to have felt very strong shaking (VII), 362 000 strong (VI), 1 204 000 moderate (V) and 21 887 000 light (IV).

Three aftershocks with magnitudes ranging from 4.7 to 5.2 over the next 2 hours.

Image credit: Google, TW/SAM. Data provided by USGS

Officials said numerous buildings were damaged and destroyed, with people under the rubble. In addition, a hotel near the epicenter also collapsed, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Cracks appeared in several highways and a major highway connecting Yibin and Xuyong County was closed, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

​An early warning alarm system was triggered in the provincial capital Chengdu about one minute before the earthquake struck, Xinhua said. The alert rang 10 seconds before it hit Yibin.

At least 12 people were killed (9 in Changning County and 3 in Qixian County) and 125 injured, China's Ministry of Emergency Management said June 18.

A temporary shelter was opened at Shuanghe Town High School in Changning County of Yibin City, southwest China's Sichuan Province.

The USGS issued a yellow alert for shaking-related fatalities. Some casualties are possible.

A red alert was issued for economic losses. Extensive damage is probable and the disaster is likely widespread. Estimated economic losses are less than 1% of GDP of China. Past events with this alert level have required a national or international level response.

Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though resistant structures exist. The predominant vulnerable building types are unreinforced brick with mud and adobe block construction.

Recent earthquakes in this area have caused secondary hazards such as landslides that might have contributed to losses.

Estimated population exposure to earthquake shaking

Selected cities exposed

Regional seismicity

Featured image credit: Google, TW/SAM

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