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A 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck a remote and mountainous area of southwest China’s Sichuan Province, killing 19 people, including six tourists, and injuring 247, the provincial government and official media reported Wednesday.
The quake struck a sparsely populated area of 200 km (120 miles) northwest of Guangyuan City on Tuesday at a depth of 10 km (6 miles), said the US Geological Department. It was also close to the nature reserve of Jiuzhaigou, a tourist destination.
Sichuan is often affected by earthquakes. An earthquake in May 2008 killed nearly 70,000 people.
An independent earthquake with a magnitude of 6.6 hit a remote area of northwest China’s Xinjiang region, more than 2000 km (1240 miles), Wednesday morning, the earthquake management in China said. The People’s Daily said 32 people were injured in mainly rural areas.
The Sichuan government said rescue crews gradually evacuated tourists and residents who were isolated by landslides.
Six tourists were killed, according to the official Chinese news agency.
State television said 19 people had died and most of the wounded were not seriously injured.
The Sichuan government said about 30,000 tourists were evacuated from the earthquake zone, causing traffic jams on narrow roads.
A few dozen tourists had camped at Jiuzhaigou Airport, waiting for flights. The airport was opened and began evacuating people by air, according to state media.
A traveler with a young woman who gave her surname as Li said she was at her hotel when the earthquake occurred.
“The walls and floor shook. Some things fell off the table,” he said.
Some people were injured at the hotel, but most were fine.
“Rescue services have sprung up quickly and gave us water and food,” Li said.
Priority was given to being evacuated as it was with a small child. “At first, the road was blocked, but the ambulance road cleared this morning.”
A Frenchman and a Canadian suffered minor injuries, Xinhua reported.
The Sichuan government said at first fears that part of a hotel collapsed was exaggerated, with only relatively minor damages and all safely evacuated.
The earthquake management in Sichuan, which also measures the magnitude 7.0 earthquake, said the quake’s epicenter was in Ngawa prefecture, which is largely populated by Tibetans, many of whom are nomadic shepherds.
The area was shaken by a series of Wednesday aftershocks.
Images on social media sites run by the state showed damage to Jiuzhaigou, fallen tiles of buildings and people outdoors.
According to state television, power was restored greatly in the affected areas and the military also sent rescue teams to help rescue.