BEIJING – A strong earthquake struck a rural part of western China this morning, killing at least 22 people and injuring at least 300, according to the local government.
The quake hit near the city of Dingxi in Gansu province, a region of mountains, desert and pastureland with a population of 26 million. That makes it one of China’s more lightly populated provinces, although the New Jersey-sized Dingxi area has a greater concentration of farms and towns with a total population of about 2.7 million.
The deaths and injuries were reported in Min County and other rural southern parts of the municipality, Dingxi Mayor Tang Xiaoming told state broadcaster CCTV. Tang said damage was worst in the counties of Zhang and Min, where scores of homes were damaged and telephone and electricity services knocked out.
Residents described shaking windows and swinging lights but little major damage and little panic. Shaking was felt in the provincial capital of Lanzhou 110 miles north, and as far away as Xi’an, 250 miles to the east.
The government’s earthquake monitoring center said the initial quake at 7:45 a.m. local time was magnitude-6.6 and subsequent tremors included a magnitude-5.6.
The quake was shallow, which can be more destructive. The U.S. Geological Survey measured the magnitude of the initial quake as 5.9 and the depth at 6 miles.
Dingxi is about 766 miles west of Beijing.