Rescue work intensified after massive earthquake in Southwest China
Rescue work continues after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake strikes Jiuzhaigou, a popular tourist destination, on August 8, 2017. [Photo: Xinhua/Ge Qiangjun]
Rescue and recovery efforts are in full swing after the strong earthquake in Sichuan.
More than 12-hundred personnel including rescue workers, medical staff, armed forces and geologists are involved, with seismologists warning of the possibility of more strong aftershocks.
Local authorities say tens of thousands of tourists have been evacuated from the quake zone a day after the quake hit shortly after 9pm on Tuesday.
Ren Haitao, a deputy director of the local safety administration, says the situation on the ground is stable and being managed well.
"We got the information that around 30 thousand travellers were stranded in Jiuzhaigou Tuesday night. The rescue operation center at the site has evacuated and re-allocated the tourists. The evacuation went ahead in an orderly fashion."
The China Earthquake Networks Center has measured the quake as a magnitude 7.0, with at least two aftershocks registering around magnitude-6 on Wednesday.
The epicenter is located on the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau near Jiuzhaigou, or the Jiuzhai Valley, which is a nature reserve and a popular tourist destination.
Jiuzhai Valley runs through the Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba, known for its ethnic minority communities, spectacular waterfalls and karst formations.
Local quake relief workers are still making their way into more remote villages in the area, as communications to certian areas around the epicenter were cut off on Tuesday night in the aftermath of the quake.
The region is also home to China's wild pandas.
Local authority have confirmed that pandas and staff at the Giant Panda Research Base, which is some 400 km from the quake's epicenter, were not affected by the earthquake.
However, the epicenter is in a known panda migration corridor, which may have an impact on the wild population in the area.
While a number of strong aftershocks have already hit the region, Jiang Haikun, a senior seismologist with China Earthquake Networks Center, is warning there could still be more seismic activity in the days to come.
"According to our previous experience, there should be more aftershocks measuring around magnitude 4 to 5. But so far the majority of the aftershocks have been comparatively weak, which is somewhat abnormal. It's very probable that there could be more strong seismic activity. Precautionary measures need to be taken, as strong aftershocks could also trigger landslides during this rainy season."
At least three major earthquakes have struck the mountainous areas of Sichuan over the past decade.
In 2008, the 8.0-magnitude earthquake in Wenchuan claimed more than 80-thousand lives. Five years later, a 7.0-magnitude quake hit Lushan.
Seismologists suggest that although the quakes are not related, they are all taking place along the seismic belt known as Longshan, which is essentially the eastern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau trying to push its way toward the Sichuan Basin.
Longshan is one of China's most active quake zones.