Xinjiang, China earthquake – 52 injured, 3000+ houses (7500 rooms) destroyed, 155000 people affected, $200 million US damage

Last update: July 3, 2012 at 4:17 am by By

Earthquake overview : A very strong earthquake occurred in the Chinese Xinjiang mountains at 05:07 local time. The epicenter area is luckily only sparsely populated.  Chinese version
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Update 4:00 UTC, 3rd July, including 2nd July comments
- China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs will continue to send officials and experts to conduct relief work in northwest China’s quake-hit Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, according to a statement made by the ministry Sunday night.
- Based on the latest reporting from China we know now that 155,000 people were affected by the M6.6 earthquake.
- 48,000 people have been relocated
- The earthquake destroyed 7500 rooms (around 2400-3200 homes) and severely damaged 21,000 rooms. In addition, 42,000 rooms have minor damage.
- 1223 million CNY is the direct loss pricetag at this point.
(192.4 million USD).
When we talk about rooms, the Chinese disaster taskforces count the damage in terms of rooms (the area between 2 walls supported laterally) rather than in houses. It can be seen that in most cases, a house in rural China has around 3 rooms, hence many translations worldwide are wrong.
- 2500 tents, 10,000 blankets and 10,000 cotton coats were sent by the authorities to the earthquake struck area
- Torrential rains have led to flash floods who killed an 8-year old boy. His mother is still missing.

By Prefecture:-
Ili Prefecture – 70679 people affected of which 32,261 have been relocated. 35 injured. 5685 rooms collapsed with many more severely damaged. A direct economic loss of 677 million Yuan (106.5 million USD).

Bazhou prefecture – 84695 people affected of which 15,944 have been relocated. 842 stalls have collapsed, greenhouses, reservoirs, electric power stations, communications, transportation, schools and other infrastructure have all been damaged to varying degrees. Direct economic losses total 546 million Yuan (85.9 million USD)

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A collapsed house by the Xinjiang earthquake - image courtesy and copyright roll.sohu.com

Update 7:25 UTC, 1st July
- 52 people have been injured.
- 93000 people have been affected
- 2200 rooms have collapsed and 34000 rooms have damage of varying degrees.
- 27000 people have been seriously affected / made homeless / evacuated.
- 617.15 million CNY is the direct loss pricetag at this point.
(97.1 million USD), with around 350 million coming from the worst affected county.
- Numerous landslides have blocked roads.
- 2017 stalls have collapsed and 4000 stalls damaged.
- 279 aftershocks (largest – 4.9), 12 between 3.0 and 3.9.

Update 10:25 UTC
- The damage toll is getting heavier every hour
- Most of the houses in the area have cracks in the walls
- luckily no killed people so far, but based on our China experience and the remote areas still to be inspected, the current state of damage and injuries is only temporary.
- The Chinese seismological agency has recorded 13 aftershocks of M3.0 or higher. 2 aftershocks surpassed the 4 level, an M4.2 at 08:46 local time and a M4.3 at 15:35 local time. All aftershocks have epicenters in the same area and the depths are more or less similar than the mainshock.
- Water distribution, roads, electricity, classrooms, hospitals, offices and other public facilities have various degrees of damage. Relief work is underway.

Big rocks on State Highway 2017 after a landslide - image courtesy and copyright Chinanews.com

Very important Update 06:47 UTC :
- a lot of houses collapsed during the shaking
- at least 37 people were injured
- As of 10:30 local time, there were 7223 households, containing 22000 people affected
- 40 workers have been trapped as well as 80 people when a landslide occurred at State Highway 217, Xinyuan county. The 40 workers were near a mountain top, and 80 people were at hot springs.70 police to the scene to conduct the rescue. An extra 40 soldiers and 10 local police were also sent later.
- 1650 rooms (around 500 houses) have been destroyed, 11300 rooms with moderate damage, and 8050 rooms with minor damage.
- 684 stalls have been damaged including 258 which collapsed killing 112 head of cattle and 245 sheep
- There have also been landslides reported given the torrential rain in the area combined with the shaking.
- temporary blackouts in a wide area
- emergency forces are currently trying to reach more distant locations. Chinese authorities have dispatched 220 assessment staff (analyzing what is needed and inspecting the damage) and 4500 specializeed SAR rescue troops.
- The quake also triggered landslides and caused cave-ins on several national and regional highways in Xinjiang, bringing traffic to a halt and making emergency help extremely difficult
- strong shaking was experienced in Urumqi, the capital of the province
- Two earthquakes measuring more than 7 on the Richter scale have jolted the region since 1900.

Emergency and rescue troops are helping a woman getting away from her partly collapsed house - image courtesy 92jn.com


Update 00:06 UTC :  We will have to wait at least another 3 to 4 hours before the assessment and emergency teams have reached the epicenter area. Trains have been stopped on various rails when the safety system enforced an emergency stop. Rails are currently being expected to avoid further problems (it is known that earthquakes often bend rails due to ground motion)

Update 23:52 UTC :  Emergency plans have been activated. The Chinese authorities are talking from a “larger earthquake disaster” although they have no detailed information yet.  Chinese media are indicating that SAR and assessment personnel has been rushed to the earthquake zone. They have the ability to help people and will tell the disasters offices what material they will need. Chinese will inspect EVERY house for eventual damage in the greater earthquake area. Chinese emergency forces are not perfect but based on what we have seen in the past earthquakes we have followed, ER calls them extremely well organized and disciplined people.

Update 23:48 UTC :  The area is considered in China as very scenic and has some tourist infrastructure. We expect the majority of tourists to be Chinese.

Update 23:30 UTCHongqiaolong looks to us the closest village to the epicenter. The epicenter is however poorly constrained (10 km more or less in another direction may be a big difference). This village and the nearby village of Wulan Hate, are called by ER at extremely high risk for damage and injuries is approx. 20 km from the epicenter. The village is located at an altitude of 2800 meter, the mountain range were the epicenter took place at approx. 3400 meter. The picture shows the traditional Chinese villages which we know are very vulnerable for earthquake damage.

The village of Hongqiaolong is at approx. 20 km from the epicenter. - Click on the picture to make it bigger

Update 22:58 UTC :  Chinese seismological services have reported 7 M+3 aftershocks so far.

Update 22:55 UTC :  Houses in a 50 km area are mostly simple and made from Brick, rocks and adobe. Generally spoken Chinese houses have little resistance against earthquakes. New constructions however are build with a very high earthquake resistance.

Update 22:53 UTC :  Some tourists living in the Xinjiang Nalati prairie cabins told the Chinese media that the earthquake duration was more than 20 seconds (numbers are very variable), and very strong shaking. Among the many residents in Urumqi, the capital was awakened by the earthquake, panic, people running down the stairs to escape (NEVER do this but remain in the house close to an inner wall until the shaking has stopped).

Update 22:42 UTC :  Blackouts are reported in the greater epicenter area.

Update 22:35 UTC :  the earthquake was strongly felt in Urumqi, Shihezi, Changji, Tacheng, Usu and Kuitun. People in these cities are standing in the streets out of fear for more aftershocks. None of these cities would have experienced a theoretical strong shaking (although people are talking different of course)

Update 22:25 UTC : People living in Urumqi (Urumqi  is the capital of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China) are reporting heavy shaking that lasted 1 minute.  This is an additional reason to be concerned. The longer a strong shaking is lasting, the more chance on severe damage. Urumqi is located at approx. 200 km from the epicenter.

Update 22:16 UTC : The Xinjiang seismological bureau is currently organizing SAR teams to be dispatched to the epicenter area. SAR = Search and Rescue teams

Update 22:15 UTC : At least (but probably a lot more) aftershocks have hit the epicenter area. The 2 strongest ones measured M3.9.

Update 22:12 UTC : Chinese authorities have updated the data and are reporting now M6.6 at a depth of 7 km.

Update 22:10 UTC : Chinese seismological staff is among the best trained staff in the world. These people are very well organized and take swift action whenever an earthquake happens. China has a long history of cruel earthquakes.

Update 22:07 UTC : It will take many hours before an in-depth damage report comes in as the epicenter area is very remote and as roads my be blocked by avalanches, damages road cover etc.

Update 22:04 UTC : The shaking has been well felt in the neighboring countries like Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

Update 21:58 UTC : The shaking MMI data given below are based on a Magnitude of 6.3. The Chinese authorities however are reporting a 6.7 magnitude at an even shallower depth.

Update 21:54 UTC : One of the biggest treats in this area are landslides.

Landscape approx. 15 km from the epicenter - image courtesy 老何

Update 21:53 UTC : There are luckily NO hydrodams or Nuclear Plants in the greater epicenter area.

Update 21:51 UTC : The landscape in the area tells us high slopes on a high plateau but also a lot of soft land in the area.

Update 21:45 UTC : USGS is predicting a VII MMI (very strong shaking for 1,000 people. 9000 people should feel a strong shaking.

Update 21:45 UTC : GDACS report that 5 people are living in a 5 km radius, 27 in a 10 km radius, 483 in a 20 km radius and 8664 in a 50 km radius. 183,832 in a 100 km radius. We call the 50 km radius at risk for this earthquake.

Update 21:42 UTC : Earthquake-Report.com calls a radius of 50 km at high risk for serious damage and injuries

Update 21:40 UTC : 150,000 people are living in a 100 km radius

Update 21:37 UTC : The Chinese seismological authorities reported a depth of 7 km at a Magnitude of 6.7.

The preliminary Magnitude reported at EMSC is 6.3 at a depth of 2 km
The preliminary Magnitude reported at USGS  is 6.3 at a depth of 2 km
The epicenter is located in the Xinjiang mountains at the crossroads between the O217 and G218. Nearest big city (at a safe distance) : Xinjuan

Most important Earthquake Data:
Magnitude : 6.3 (USGS) 6.7 (CEN)
UTC Time : Friday, June 29, 2012 at 21:07:32 UTC
Local time at epicenter : Saturday, June 30, 2012 at 05:07:32 AM at epicenter
Depth (Hypocenter) : 9.8 km (USGS) 7 km (CEN)
Geo-location(s) :
Closest village / city Gongnaisigouxiang at approx. 25 km
99 km (61 miles) S of Dushanzi, China
Xinjuan at +100 km
151 km (94 miles) SW (230°) from Shihezi, Xinjiang, China

Links to important maps
USGS Did You Feel It Map
Google satellite map showing the epicenter and the surrounding area
Historic earthquakes map
Seismic hazard map
Shaking map
Scientific parameters
Human impact map

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SRC Location UTC Date/time M D INFO
USGS Northern Xinjiang, China Jun 29 21:07 6.3 18 MAP I Felt It
GEOFON Northern Xinjiang, China Jun 29 21:07 6.3 20 MAP I Felt It
  • Urumqi - Building was shaking & people went outside
  • 乌鲁木齐 - Urumqi - 猛然触发,楼持续晃动1分钟多,盆中水晃出 Translated : Urumqi - triggered suddenly, the floor, continued shaking for more than one minute, a pot of water shake out
  • Urumqi - Felt the shaking as we lay in bed, had the curtains open so I saw all the lights come on in the building across us
  • Urumqi, China - It woke me up, and I heard my neighbors also talking, but it seemed to have no effect on the drunk people outside my window who kept talking and laughing for the next hour.
  • Urumqi - i was asleep and i woke up by severe shaking
  • EMSC Northern Xinjiang, China Jun 29 21:07 6.3 10 MAP I Felt It
    CEN Xinjiang, China Jun 29 21:07 6.6 7 MAP I Felt It

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    SHARE YOUR EARTHQUAKE EXPERIENCE WITH US

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    Country where you felt the earthquake
    City/Village where you felt the earthquake
    Street or suburb (area) where you felt the earthquake
    MMI II (Very weak shaking) ?
    People :
    Felt by persons at rest, on upper floors or favorably placed.
    MMI III (Weak shaking) ?
    People :
    Felt indoors; hanging objects may swing, vibration similar to passing of light trucks, duration may be estimated, may not be recognized as an earthquake.
    MMI IV (Light shaking) ?
    People :
    Generally noticed indoors but not outside. Light sleepers may be awakened. Vibration may be likened to the passing of heavy traffic, or to the jolt of a heavy object falling or striking the building.
    Fittings :
    Doors and windows rattle. Glassware and crockery rattle. Liquids in open vessels may be slightly disturbed. Standing motorcars may rock.
    Structures :
    Walls and frames of buildings, and partitions and suspended ceilings in commercial buildings, may be heard to creak.
    MMI V (Moderate shaking) ?
    People :
    Generally felt outside, and by almost everyone indoors. Most sleepers awakened. A few people alarmed.
    Fittings :
    Small unstable objects are displaced or upset. Some glassware and crockery may be broken. Hanging pictures knock against the wall. Open doors may swing. Cupboard doors secured by magnetic catches may open. Pendulum clocks stop, start, or change rate.
    Structures :
    Some large display windows cracked. A few earthenware toilet fixtures cracked.
    MMI VI (Strong shaking) ?
    People Felt by all. People and animals alarmed. Many run outside. Difficulty experienced in walking steadily.
    Fittings :
    Objects fall from shelves. Pictures fall from walls. Some furniture moved on smooth floors, some unsecured free-standing fireplaces moved. Glassware and crockery broken. Very unstable furniture overturned. Small church and school bells ring. Appliances move on bench or table tops. Filing cabinets or "easy glide" drawers may open (or shut).
    Structures :
    Slight damage to buildings with low standard. Some stucco or cement plaster falls. Large display windows broken. Damage to a few weak domestic chimneys, some may fall.
    Environment :
    Trees and bushes shake, or are heard to rustle. Loose material may be dislodged from sloping ground, e.g. existing slides, talus slopes, shingle slides.
    MMI VII (Very strong shaking) ?
    People
    General alarm. Difficulty experienced in standing. Noticed by motorcar drivers who may stop.
    Fittings :
    Large bells ring. Furniture moves on smooth floors, may move on carpeted floors. Substantial damage to fragile contents of buildings.
    Structures :
    Unreinforced stone and brick walls cracked. Low standard buildings cracked with some minor masonry falls. A few instances of damage to buildings of ordinary workmanship. Unbraced parapets, unbraced brick gables, and architectural ornaments fall. Roofing tiles, especially ridge tiles may be dislodged. Many unreinforced domestic chimneys damaged, often falling from roof-line. Water tanks Type I burst. A few instances of damage to brick veneers and plaster or cement-based linings. Unrestrained water cylinders (hot-water cylinders) may move and leak. Some common windows cracked. Suspended ceilings damaged.
    Environment :
    Water made turbid by stirred up mud. Small slides such as falls of sand and gravel banks, and small rock-falls from steep slopes and cuttings. Instances of settlement of unconsolidated or wet, or weak soils. Some fine cracks appear in sloping ground. A few instances of liquefaction (i.e. small water and sand ejections).
    MMI VIII (Severe shaking) ?
    People Alarm may approach panic. Steering of motorcars greatly affected. Structures : Low standard buildings heavily damaged, some collapse. ordinary workmanship buildings damaged, some with partial collapse. Reinforced masonry or concrete buildings damaged in some cases. A few instances of damage to buildings and bridges designed and built to resist earthquakes. Monuments and pre-1976 elevated tanks and factory stacks twisted or brought down. Some pre-1965 infill masonry panels damaged. A few post-1980 brick veneers damaged. Decayed timber piles of houses damaged. Houses not secured to foundations may move. Most unreinforced domestic chimneys damaged, some below roof-line, many brought down. Environment : Cracks appear on steep slopes and in wet ground. Small to moderate slides in roadside cuttings and unsupported excavations. Small water and sand ejections and localized lateral spreading adjacent to streams, canals, lakes, etc.
    MMI IX (Violent shaking) ?
    Structures Many low standard buildings destroyed. Ordinary workmanship buildings heavily damaged, some collapse. Reinforced masonry or concrete buildings damaged, some with partial collapse. Buildings and bridges designed and built to resist earthquakes damaged in some cases, some with flexible frames seriously damaged. Damage or permanent distortion to some buildings and bridges, designed and built to normal use standards. Houses not secured to foundations shifted off. Brick veneers fall and expose frames. Environment : Cracking of ground conspicuous. Landsliding general on steep slopes. Liquefaction effects intensified and more widespread, with large lateral spreading and flow sliding adjacent to streams, canals, lakes, etc.
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