|Residents buy food in the old town of Yutian County of Hetian Prefecture, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Feb. 13, 2014. A 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck Yutian County on Wednesday. By noon of Thursday, 7,838 residents in six counties of Hotan Prefecture were affected by the tremor, with 982 relocated to safety, said a statement from the regional civil affairs department. So far, no casualties have been reported. (Xinhua/Jiang Wenyao)|
URUMQI, Feb. 13 -- A 7.3-magnitude earthquake that struck China's far western region of Xinjiang on Wednesday afternoon affected more than 7,800 people, while no casualties have been reported.
The epicenter, in a sparsely populated area with an average altitude of 5,000 meters, is more than 50 km away from the nearest settlement, Aqqan Township in Yutian County, Hotan Prefecture.
By 11 a.m. on Thursday, 7,838 residents in six counties of Hotan were affected by the tremor, with 982 relocated to safety, said a statement from the regional civil affairs department.
The jolt also toppled 157 houses and damaged 3,297 others to varying degrees, inflicting direct economic losses of about 41.65 million yuan (6.87 million U.S. dollars), according to the statement.
Two local rescue teams have arrived in Pixka and Pulu villages of Aqqan to check on the damage. Rescuers said aftershocks and poor conditions on rugged mountain roads were hindering disaster relief efforts.
Dispatched by the regional health department, 14 medical workers have reached quake-hit areas. The department has ordered its local branches to monitor water quality and prevent diseases.
By 10 a.m. on Thursday, hard-hit villages had set up tents to accommodate the relocated, supplying them with blankets, overcoats and food, according to the statement.
Locals said the houses near the epicenter are all quake-resistant.Xinjiang started a quake-resistant housing project in 2004.
Experts with the China Earthquake Networks Center said the area shares the same plate with Wenchuan in southwest China's Sichuan Province and Yushu in northwest China's Qinghai Province.
Wenchuan was devastated by an 8.0-magnitude quake in 2008, and Yushu was hit by a 7.1-magnitude quake in 2010.