Very strong and shallow M6.6 earthquake hits northern Qinghai, China


A very strong earthquake registered by the USGS as M6.6 hit northern Qinghai, China at 17:45 UTC on January 7, 2022 (01:45 LT, January 8). The agency is reporting a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles). EMSC is reporting M6.4 at depth of 10 km. China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC) is reporting M6.9 at a depth of 10 km.

The epicenter was located about 111 km (69 miles) SW of Jinchang (population 144 363) and 139 km (86 miles) NNW of Xioning (population 767 531), Gansu, China.

8 000 people are estimated to have felt strong shaking, 1 376 000 moderate, and 19 043 000 light.

The USGS issued a Green alert for shaking-related fatalities. There is a low likelihood of casualties.

An Orange alert was issued for economic losses. Significant damage is likely and the disaster is potentially widespread. Estimated economic losses are less than 1% of GDP of China. Past events with this alert level have required a regional or national level response.

Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are highly vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though some resistant structures exist. The predominant vulnerable building types are adobe block and log construction.

Image credit: TW/SAM, Google

Qinghai province officials activated a Level II emergency response, the second-highest in China's four-tier earthquake emergency response system. (Xinhua)

There are five villages within 5 km (3.1 miles) of the epicenter.

An initial investigation showed that no casualties or property damage have been reported yet, said Guo Yong, deputy director of the provincial department of emergency management, adding that firefighters have been sent to the affected areas for rescue.

The quake damaged several tunnels on the Lanzhou-Xinjiang railway, forcing rail officials to suspend all train services in this area.

Estimated population exposure to earthquake shaking

Selected cities exposed

Regional seismicity

Featured image credit: TW/SAM, Google

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