Large 7.2 earthquake strikes China

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Solid circle indicates quake’s epicenter.
Image: USGS.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude 7.2 has struck the Xinjiang region of China. The Earthquake Administration of China has reported the quake to be a 7.3 magnitude.

The quake struck at 6:33 a.m. (local time) and its epicenter was located 228 kilometers (142 miles) southeast of Hotan and 780 k.m. (485 miles) east, northeast of Islamabad, Pakistan. The depth was recorded at 37.2 k.m. (23.1 miles).

According to USGS geophysicist Dale Grant, this is the largest quake on record to hit the region. The largest quake on record occurred in China in 1556 in Shaanxi and had a magnitude of at least 8.0, killing over 830,000 people.

Aftershocks with magnitudes of 5.5 and under began to occur just over an hour later in the same region.

As of 2006, the reported population of Hotan was 114,000. The region is sparsely populated and so far there are reports of only some damage, but no injuries or deaths. However, the USGS states that damage could be “moderate to heavy.” The quake struck near the Tarim Basin which is home to about 1/3 of China’s oil reserve supply.



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