March 24 (UPI) — Chinese authorities reported three people died after an earthquake struck China’s far west region of Xinjiang on Wednesday.
The China Earthquake Networks Center reported that a magnitude 5.4 earthquake struck an area near Aksu, a city located at the northern edge of the Tarim Basin.
The quake first occurred at 5:14 a.m. on Wednesday, according to the German Research Center for Geosciences.
Three people were confirmed dead and 65 homes damaged in Baicheng County, according to Chinese news network CGTN.
China News Service reported the Aksu Brigade of the Bazhou Detachment of Xinjiang Forest Fire Fighting Corps deployed an emergency response team that included five vehicles carrying 28 first responders.
By 1:30 p.m. rescuers reported damage and three deaths.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported the earthquake’s magnitude as 5.4 and its depth as 10 kilometers, or about 6 miles, qualifying the tremor as a shallow earthquake. Shallow quakes are felt more strongly because they are closer to the surface. Weak shaking may have been experienced in Aksu, with a population of 340,000, and in Aykol, with 11,300 people, according to Volcano Discovery.
Earthquake data indicate the region witnessed tremors of a smaller magnitude ahead of Wednesday.
On Tuesday, a moderate earthquake with a magnitude of 3.9 hit an area of Xinjiang 135 miles southeast of Zhakent, Kazakhstan. On Monday, a magnitude 4.0 earthquake 28 miles south of Sarkand, Kazakhstan, struck the region.
Scientists previously have said the Xinjiang area is a tectonically active region.
Liu Mian, a geophysicist at the University of Missouri, told the South China Morning Post in 2017 China’s northwest is where the Eurasia and India plates slide against each other near the Tibetan plateau.
In January 2020 a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck Xinjiang.