China: Earthquakes in Xinjiang Autonomous Region - Information Bulletin n° 1

The context

The eighth earthquake this year measuring over 6.0 on the Richter Scale in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of north-west China struck Jiashi County on 16 April. Approximately 280,000 people live in the earthquake area which has experienced over 4,000 aftershocks since 21 January. Thousands of homes constructed of wood and mud have been destroyed and many livestock have died in these rural communities, where agriculture and sheep raising are the mainstay.

After the 21 January earthquake, many people moved out of their homes to sleep which has contributed to the low death toll. Another factor has been the warnings issued by the Government following seismologists' predictions and the subsequent evacuation of families from weakened structures the day before two earthquakes hit on 6 April. In that episode 1,559 rooms were destroyed in 16 townships, and 113 schools ( 842 classrooms) were damaged. The Government continues to warn the public of additional, and possibly more severe, quakes. The collective impact of these quakes could ultimately require Federation assistance.