At least seven people were killed and multiple homes were “severely damaged” after a 6.6-magnitude earthquake hit southwestern China on Monday, according to local authorities and state media.

The tremor was recorded at 12:52 p.m. (0452 GMT) in the mountainous region of Sichuan, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The depth of the earthquake was estimated at 10 km and its epicenter was 39 km from Luding county, Chinese public television CCTV reported. In a video released by the official Xinhua news agency, hanging lamps were seen swinging and pieces of buildings on the ground. Also rocks that blocked a road.

The tremor was felt in several cities in the province, including the regional capital Chengdu, some 200 kilometers from the epicenter and which has 21 million inhabitants, currently confined due to an outbreak of covid-19. The first official toll of the earthquake reported seven deaths, CCTV said, citing a press conference by local authorities.

“Houses were badly damaged” and telephone lines were interrupted in some places, he added.

The tremor was “relatively strong,” a Chengdu resident named Chen, who declined to give her full name, told AFP.

“Some of my downstairs neighbors said they noticed it very clearly,” she added.

As Chengdu is currently under lockdown, “people are not allowed to leave their residential compounds, and many rushed into the courtyards” of homes, she added.

At the moment, the authorities did not report damage in the city.

– “Fear” –
The Chengdu authorities extended the confinement of its inhabitants on Sunday after detecting hundreds of new cases of coronavirus these days.

Near the epicenter of Monday’s earthquake, telecommunications with Moxi, a small town of 7,000 inhabitants, were cut off, CGTN public television said. More than 500 firefighters and rescuers were dispatched to the epicenter, the Xinhua news agency reported. A video released by the China Center for Earthquake Networks shows several rocks rolling down a hill in Luding County, kicking up clouds of dust. According to the agency, there were several aftershocks in the surroundings of the first earthquake. A resident of Chongqing, whose center is located more than 400 km from the epicenter, told AFP that the tremor was felt “very clearly”.

“I was rather scared. But it doesn’t seem like it bothered the people here too much,” he explains.

The highly mountainous province of Sichuan, famous for its panda reserves, regularly experiences earthquakes of varying intensity. In June, a 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck the province, causing at least four deaths and dozens of injuries. In May 2008, a very powerful earthquake of magnitude 7.9 caused 87,000 deaths or missing in Sichuan, a catastrophe that shocked the world.

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