A moderate but shallow earthquake rocked China’s far western Xinjiang region on Thursday, killing eight people and injuring another 23 as more than 1,500 homes crumbled, state media reported.
The 5.4-magnitude quake struck at 5:58 am, 213 kilometers south-southwest of the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar, the US Geological Survey said.
Some people were buried after their adobe homes collapsed, said Wang Fuyou, Communist Party chief of Taxkorgan county, a remote mountainous area that borders Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Rescuers were searching for people trapped in the rubble in Quzgun, the worst-hit village, which has a population of 449, Wang said, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
More than 1,500 homes collapsed in Quzgun, Xinhua said.
More than 9,000 people were relocated in the region while 1,000 soldiers and 1,500 civilians were participating in rescue efforts, the agency said, adding there had been frequent aftershocks.
Xinhua said the injured were taken to hospital.
The People’s Daily posted a photo on Twitter of a building in complete ruins. Other photos, all from the official earthquake monitoring center, show ceiling panels on the ground in one building and products on the floor in a store.
China is regularly hit by earthquakes, especially its mountainous western and southwestern regions.
In February 2003 a powerful 6.8-magnitude quake killed 268 people in Xinjiang and caused significant damage.