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China reports magnitude-7.2 earthquake in Xinjiang near border with Tajikistan


BEIJING – A magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook China’s Xinjiang region and Tajikistan on Thursday at a depth of 10km, Chinese state television CCTV reported, citing the China Earthquake Networks Centre.

The United States Geological Survey estimated that “little or no population” will be exposed to landslides from the quake.

Its epicentre appeared to be in Gorno-Badakhshan, a semi-autonomous eastern region that borders Afghanistan and China.

A magnitude-5.0 aftershock hit the area about 20 minutes after the initial quake.

The sparsely populated territory is surrounded by the towering Pamir Mountains and is home to Lake Sarez. 

The aquamarine-coloured body of water – formed as a result of an earthquake in 1911 – is among Tajikistan’s largest lakes. 

Located behind Lake Sarez is a natural dam deep in the Pamir Mountains, and experts have warned that the consequences will be catastrophic if the dam is breached. 

Tajikistan – like much of the rest of Central Asia – is highly prone to natural disasters and has a long history of floods, earthquakes, landslides, avalanches and heavy snowfalls. 

On Feb 15, nine people died in an avalanche in Gorno-Badakhshan, while another person was killed on the same day in an avalanche on a highway near the capital Dushanbe. REUTERS, AFP

Source: The Straits Times