No casualties reported after 6.9-magnitude quake hits Qinghai

No casualties have been reported so far after a 6.9-magnitude earthquake jolted Menyuan Hui Autonomous County in northwest China's Qinghai Province early Saturday morning.

No casualties have been reported so far after a 6.9-magnitude earthquake jolted Menyuan Hui Autonomous County in northwest China's Qinghai Province early Saturday morning, according to a press conference held by the information office of the provincial government.

The earthquake took place at 1:45 am The epicenter was monitored at 37.77 degrees north latitude and 101.26 degrees east longitude. The quake struck at a depth of 10 km, the China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC) said.

Soon after the quake occurred, the Ministry of Emergency Management (MEM) initiated an emergency disaster relief response. A work team has been dispatched to Qinghai by the ministry and China Earthquake Administration to support local people to check out the disaster situation, settle affected residents and forecast the trend of the disaster, according to the MEM Saturday.

The Qinghai Province has activated a Level II emergency response, the second-highest in China's four-tier earthquake emergency response system, according to the provincial department of emergency management.

There are five villages within the 5-km range around the epicenter. An initial investigation showed that no casualties or property damage have been reported yet, said Guo Yong, deputy director of the provincial department of emergency management, adding that firefighters have been sent to the affected areas for rescue.

The quake was obviously felt at Menyuan Hui Autonomous County as the epicenter is about 53-km away from the county seat, said Ma Honglong, an official with the county's publicity department.

"I felt that the entire house was shaking when the quake hit. My wife was scared to cry out," said Ma Zhanxiang at his noodle restaurant.

Ma's daughter, a student of the No. 2 High School in Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, said, "My classmates and I were sleeping in our dormitory when the quake happened. We were woken up suddenly by the tremor."

Xinhua reporters saw lots of students wrapped in quilts gathered at the playground of the school in the morning.

Bao Yulong, the principal of the school, said, "Over 2,500 students living in campus were gathered at the playground. We arranged buses for the students and sent them home safely."

The Huangcheng Mongolian Township, Menyuan County, is the nearest township to the epicenter. Life has not been affected here. Rescue vehicles have been dispatched to the quake-affected areas.

The head of the township told Xinhua that cracks were found on some herdsmen's houses but no casualties have been reported nor any livestock found dead. Several aftershocks occurred after the quake.

Citizens in Xining, the provincial capital which is about 136-km away from the epicenter, also felt the tremor and rushed to an open field.

The China Railway Qinghai-Tibet Group Co., Ltd. launched an emergency response in the wake of the quake, including closing relevant railway lines, suspending all the trains which are in operation on these lines, and sending personnel to check the railway lines in the affected area.

So far, some 11 multiple unit trains which are scheduled to pass through the direction of Menyuan County have been suspended, the company said.

The China Railway Lanzhou Group Co., Ltd. said the train service on some sections of the Lanzhou-Xinjiang high-speed railway line was suspended since the quake had left several tunnels on the line damaged.

Wang Dalin, the chief dispatcher at the China Railway Lanzhou Group Co., Ltd., said they are checking the operation conditions of the bridges, tunnels, and signals along the railway line.

Some trains on the Lanzhou-Xinjiang Railway line, which is for trains that run at relatively low speed, have resumed operation with limited speed at 6:39 am

The neighboring Gansu Province has also activated a Level III emergency response and sent 90 forest firefighters to the affected areas for rescue, according to the provincial earthquake relief headquarters.

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