Four earthquakes hit two remote areas of Tibet

28, Jan 23, 2008

Three earthquakes hit a sparsely populated area in Gerze County of Ngari Prefecture in remote western Tibet on Jan 9, 16 and 23, with no casualties or damages reported, while a moderate earthquake jolted Motuo (Metog) County of Linzhi (Nyingtri) prefecture on Jan 18, reported the official Chinese media and other news agencies.

The first one, measuring 6.9 degrees on the Richter Scale, occurred at 16:26 Beijing Time, reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Jan 9. The epicentre was located at 32.5 degrees north latitude and 85.2 degrees east longitude, about 100 km east of Gerze County seat. AFP Jan 9 cited a county official as saying this was in the east of the county seat, near a village called Dongcuo. “We have no staff stationed in this area as no people live there,” it quoted an official from the Tibetan Seismological Bureau as saying.

Another Xinhua report Jan 10 cited Tibet Seismological Bureau as saying residents in Gerze felt the shock strongly. The report said the area near the epicentre had a population of 1,000 to 2,000. The AFP reported cited the China Mapping Publishing House to note that the 135,000-sq km county, whose elevation is 4,000 metres above mean sea level, had, in 2005, a population of only 16,900.

A second earthquake, measuring 6.0 degrees on the Richter Scale, hit the same area at 19:54 Beijing Time on Jan 16. And at 2:43 Beijing Time on Jan 23, earthquake measuring 5.5 degrees on Richter Scale hit the same area with its epicentre located at 32.4 degrees north latitude and 85.2 degrees east longitude, reported Xinhua 23.

A Xinhua report of Jan 18 said many houses collapsed or were damaged in the two separate natural disasters, with initial investigation putting the economic loss at several million yuan. No deaths or personal injuries were reported. The region has experienced more than 20 after-shocks with magnitudes of over 3 as of Jan 17, with more moderate tremors expected to last for up to three months, the report added. Tents, quilts and clothes had reportedly been allocated to the affected people.

The Metog earthquake measured 4.8 on the Richter scale and occurred at 3:21 am, said the Xinhua report of Jan 18. The only county in the PRC without a proper highway and located close to Tibet’s border with India has a population of 10,000. The area has a history of seismic disruption.

The Jan 10 Xinhua report called Tibet one of the most earthquake-prone areas in the PRC, having suffered more than 600 quakes with magnitudes of over 5 since 1900. The biggest of these, which read 8.5 on the Richter Scale, hit Zayul County on Aug 15, 1950, killing around 4,000 people, the report added.


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