A shallow earthquake struck Sichuan province in southwestern China in the early morning hours, killing at least three people and wounding dozens more, prompting the second-highest degree of rescue reaction.
The tremor struck just after 4:30 a.m. local time (20:30 GMT Wednesday), roughly 120 kilometers (75 miles) southwest of Chongqing, a vast megacity with a population of 30 million people.
The preliminary magnitude of the earthquake was 5.4, according to the USGS. However, it was estimated at six by the China Earthquake Networks Centre. Both stated that the tremor occurred at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles).
According to the state-run Global Times, three individuals have been killed, and 60 others have been hurt, three critically.
Authorities reported that dozens of houses in Luxian had collapsed, many more had been damaged, and communications to tens of thousands of people were affected.
Workers climbed ladders in the pouring rain to remove hazardous debris hanging from buildings, including half-broken panes of glass, according to CCTV live footage from Luxian.
Another video published by the Sichuan Daily shows students escaping their dormitories in the dark while clutching umbrellas and backpacks.
Authorities dismissed the imminent threat of a more fantastic aftershock.
“A larger earthquake in the area is unlikely shortly,” Du Bin, deputy chief of the Sichuan Earthquake Administration, told reporters. “However, aftershocks will continue for some time,” he added.
In a preliminary assessment, the USGS stated that “significant damage is likely, and the disaster is potentially widespread.”
The local government in Sichuan announced in a Weibo social-media post that multiple power lines had been interrupted and that 62,000 households had lost electricity due to the earthquake.
According to the local administration, traffic on highways through the area has been redirected to make room for rescue vehicles and avoid damaged roadways.
Earthquakes strike China frequently, particularly in the country's mountainous western and southwestern provinces.
In 2008, a massive 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck Sichuan province, killing or missing 87,000 people.
Thousands of children were among them, murdered when poorly constructed school buildings collapsed.