Very strong dangerous earthquake in Kazakhstan - 7458 houses damaged and 216 destroyed in Xinjiang, China

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Update April 30th : In Kyrgyztan, 636 buildings were damaged and 156 more collapsed. 29 villages were affected.

Update 10:14 UTC : We have of course been searching for specific information on Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan damage, but no record of it besides some cracks in houses mentioned below.

Update Jan. 30 09:51 UTC :  A lot more damage in China than initially reported
More than 20,000 residents of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region were affected by a strong quake that hit Kazakhstan early Tuesday, local authorities said Wednesday.
The quake damaged 7,458 houses and destroyed 216 others, affecting a total of 20,421 people in the Kazak Autonomous Prefecture of Ili in northern Xinjiang, according to prefectural authorities.
The prefecture suffered direct economic losses of 60 million yuan (9.55 million U.S. dollars) due to the quake.
The quake also damaged sewage facilities, 1,000 houses and four schools in the city of Aksu in southern Xinjiang, causing direct economic losses of 40 million yuan.
Disaster relief efforts are continuing.
Comment ER : We had a hard time to believe the words of a person living in Aksu and telling us that they felt serious shaking and that some houses collapsed. At the time of reporting, early after the earthquake, he was the only one telling us such a story and even more surprising so far away from the epicenter (+100 km).  What surprises us even more, is that reports from Kazakhstan are minimizing the impact of this earthquake in cities closer to the epicenter like Narynkol and Kegen
This article is partly courtesy and copyright


China border damage Update 15:11 UTC : According to preliminary statistics of the Chinese authorities, the earthquake caused cracks in 22 brick and wooden houses. Besides this 82 civil structures and 23 stalls where damaged to some extent. The direct economic losses in China are estimated to be 4.50 million CNY (700,000 USD). Luckily no casualties.
The damage has been mainly reported from Zhaosu, a farming village and town close to the border but at a far greater distance than the 2 Kazakh towns of Narynkol and Kegen as can be seen on the map below.

Image courtesy and copyright

Image courtesy and copyright

Epicenter map Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan China (Xinjiang) earthquake

Update 12:07 UTC : A task force reported the good news that only cracks in houses were inflicted during this dangerous earthquake. As can be found earlier in this article, we reported that the epicenter area was almost unpopulated and that the first settlement (only a couple of houses was at a distance of approx. 30 km from the epicenter). We are happy for Kazakhstan that this was a lucky escape.

Update 09:26 UTC : We do note continuous aftershocks in the epicenter area. The latest one was M5.0 at a depth of 1 km (preliminary)

Important update 08:25 UTC : Based on a report of a specialist task force visiting the epicenter area, NO serious damage or injuries were found and infrastructure is still working normally.  (we will search for confirmation of this report as not every country is reporting all damage - ie cracks in houses are often not reported)

Update Jan. 29 - 08:07 UTC : Chinese sources are talking (like a reader reported below) of some damage in Aksu, Xinjiang, China. They reported also that besides the damage nobody was injured.

Update 23:59 UTC : A lot of talk in the local press about the situation in Almaty, but no word about the situation in the direct epicenter area. As said earlier, if damage has been inflicted, it would have happened in a radius of 20 to 30 km to the epicenter. Almaty is 230 km from the epicenter and has of course no damage. All services operated normally in Almaty.
Since the mainshock a series of aftershocks have been generated, which is perfectly normal after such a strong earthquake.
Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan have send special teams to the greater epicenter area to assess the situation.

Update 18:56 UTC : Kazakh authorities are reporting a Magnitude of 6.6 at a depth of 10 km. 3 aftershocks are being reported in Kazakhstan so far (4.5, 4.7 and 5.1). They were felt in Kegen and Narynkol as a weak to very weak shaking.

Update 18:37 UTC : We have the impression that the Chinese authorities do not expect the Xinjiang greater epicenter area to be damaging as no rescue and assessment teams have been send to that area (based on what we see in our usual sources).  Distance from the epicenter to the Chinese border is approx. 60 km.

Update 18:25 UTC : As could be expected aftershocks, up to M4.4 so far are striking the area.

Update 18:18 UTC : After analyzing satellite pictures, we could not find a village in the perimeter which we would call very risky and thats good news.  Bayankol at approx. 30 km from the epicenter is a very small settlement with only very few houses.
Although dangerous based on the Magnitude and depth, the lack of people living near the epicenter may be a narrow escape. Landslides can however damage the nearby roads and other infrastructure.

Landscape near the epicenter - Image courtesy and copyright Andyno

Landscape near the epicenter - Image courtesy and copyright Andyno

Update 18:08 UTC : We want to stress to our Kazakh readers that aftershocks are always possible (normally weaker than the mainshock, although this cannot be guaranteed). We remember  from an earthquake last year that a similar earthquake was followed by rumors that a severe earthquake would strike Almaty. Almost half Almaty moved outside the city and .... nothing happened.
We want to repeat over and over again that earthquake prediction (epicenter location, strength and hypocenter) is NOT accurate at this time, so do not follow advises based on rumors and follow only the instructions from the authorities.

To our readers from the earthquake countries with a twitter account : please subscribe to our @Quake_Tracker4 for the best earthquake reporting in the world. We keep you updated about every major detail.

Update 17:36 UTC : Almaty is approx. 250 km from the epicenter. A light shaking in Almaty can be a very strong shaking near the epicenter.
The closest cities to the epicenter and Narynkol and Bayankol.

Update 17:29 UTC : Although the epicenter is located in Kazakhstan, we are not excluding that some minor damage maybe generated in Kyrgyzstan and Xinjiang (China). If people from these countries are reading this and they have more information, please let us know.

Update 17:25 UTC : USGS has calculated a theoretical maximum intensity of MMI VII (very strong shaking) near the epicenter.
We remind our readers (based on our experience) that it can take many hours before some detailed reports are reaching the outside world.

Update 17:20 UTC : calls an area with a radius of 30 km around the epicenter as HIGH RISK area, vulnerable for damage.
Additionally secondary effects like landslides are as dangerous as the earthquake shaking itself.

Update 17:04 UTC : USGS reports M6.0 at a depth of 10.6 km
All reporting seismological agencies are reporting a very shallow and thus very dangerous earthquake. M6.0 is a potentially deadly earthquake in this area of the world.

Shaking map earthquake Kazakhstan January 28 2013

Update 17:02 UTC : The earthquake occurred in the triangle of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and China (Xinjiang). We do fear that this earthquake will be damaging to some extend.
It is now dark in the area and we fear that electricity will be down. No electricity means a lot of uncertainty to reach the epicenter area and to do some rescue works.
The area is sparsely populated.

Update 16:58 UTC : EMSC has update their records to M6.1 at a depth of 10 km, less but still VERY DANGEROUS

Update 16:51 UTC : EMSC reports a Magnitude of 6.5 at a depth of 2 km. Various data which will become better the following minutes.

Update : The first notice reaching us is a preliminary Magnitude of 6.1 at a depth of 22 km = Very dangerous

Update : based on the many visitors from Kazakhstan, we think a major earthquake occurred there.

Based on an increasing number of visitors joining us from Kazakhstan, we believe that an earthquake was felt. When you are one of the people who experienced this earthquake, please fill in the form behind "I Felt A (not Listed) Earthquake". Thank you.

Earthquake Kazakhstan January 28 2013

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Kazakhstan-only earthquake list

Most important Earthquake Data:
Magnitude : 6.1 (preliminary)
Local time at epicenter : local time 22:38:55
Depth (Hypocenter) : 22 km
Geo-location(s) :
227 km E Almaty (pop 1,204,762 ; local time 22:38:55.2 2013-01-28)
185 km NW Aksu (pop 340,020 ; local time 00:38:55.2 2013-01-29)
101 km E Tyup (pop 13,437 ; local time 22:38:55.2 2013-01-28)
44 km SW Koshkar (pop 311 ; local time 22:38:55.2 2013-01-28)

Links to important maps
USGS Did You Feel It Map
Google satellite map showing the epicenter and the surrounding area
Shaking map
Historic earthquake data
Scientific parameters

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Share your earthquake experience (I Have Felt It) with our readers.
Click on the "I Felt It" button behind the corresponding earthquake

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SRC Location UTC Date/time M D INFO
EMSC Eastern Kazakhstan Jan 28 23:49 4.2 1 MAP
EMSC Eastern Kazakhstan Jan 28 20:40 4.6 1 MAP
USGS Eastern Kazakhstan Jan 28 20:37 4.6 10 MAP
EMSC Eastern Kazakhstan Jan 28 20:37 4.7 2 MAP
USGS Eastern Kazakhstan Jan 28 19:47 4.6 9 MAP
USGS Eastern Kazakhstan Jan 28 19:11 4.5 10 MAP
EMSC Eastern Kazakhstan Jan 28 19:11 4.5 2 MAP
EMSC Eastern Kazakhstan Jan 28 18:49 4.4 1 MAP
USGS Eastern Kazakhstan Jan 28 17:31 4.4 10 MAP
EMSC Eastern Kazakhstan Jan 28 17:31 4.8 1 MAP
EMSC Eastern Kazakhstan Jan 28 17:12 4.5 1 MAP
EMSC Eastern Kazakhstan Jan 28 17:09 4.3 1 MAP
USGS Eastern Kazakhstan Jan 28 16:38 6.0 15 MAP
  • Aksu, Xinjiang - Serious shaking here, some damage
  • EMSC Eastern Kazakhstan Jan 28 16:38 6.1 10 MAP
  • Almaty, Kazakhstan - Ceiling lamp was shaking. i felt the earthquake while lying on the sofa
  • kazakhstan - all the furniture was shaking
  • Almaty, Kazakhstan - In hotel in Almaty, felt light to moderate shaking. No other explanation except earthquake.
  • almaty - 4 degrees at least. Lamps were shaking for 10 seconds
  • Almaty, Kazakhstan - Furniture and lights shook for ~10-15 seconds
  • Almaty - Felt the house shake slightly in two stages
  • Almaty - Lights shaking for 15 sec..scared the hell out of me
  • Almaty - The lights were shaking a long time!!!
  • Almaty city center - a conciderable shaking in the apartment. This could wake you up and cause a serious anxiety
  • Almaty - Earthquake
  • Almaty - The lights and walls were shaking for about 7 sec
  • Almaty - As usual
  • Almaty - Moderate to strong shaking lasting less than a minute
  • Almaty - easily noticeable shaking
  • Almaty, Kazakhstan - Floor and furniture was shaking
  • Jal microregion, Bishkek - on the 9th floor it was shaking, man! you could feel it. it went for about 30 seconds.
  • Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan - Our chandeliers were shaking.
  • Almaty, kazakhstan - 5 minutes ago furniture and lamps were shaking strong about 20 seconds
  • Almaty, Kazakhstan - I felt the earthquake while washing the dish in the kitchen and I noticed dishes in the shelf shaking, then the ceiling lamp was shaking for about 15 sec.
  • Almaty (Kazakhstan) - At hotel near city centre, at the first floor, ground was clearly shaking.
  • almaty - continuous shaking felt even on ground floor
  • Kampot, Almaty, Kazakhstan - Lamps were swaying. No sound. Felt it in my feet. On second floor of a house. Scary
  • Almaty - The water in the Jug was shaking...and of course the lamps...quite scary. Damn cold outside and foggy
  • Almaty - Ceiling lamp was shaking
  • Almaty city centre - lights & chandelier shaking
  • Almaty - felt it two times , moderate
  • Almaty, Kazakhstan - There were two tremors both similar in magnitude. Chandeliers were swinging in the apartment but nothing fell off the walls or shelves. Some people did leave the apartment building to be outside in case something worse followed the initial tremors.
  • almaty - walls and light were shaking for about 30sec, magnitude was definitely more than 6
  • Almaty - The earthquake characterized by vertical jolts. 3 - 4 marks on the Richter scale (sorry for my Google English)
  • Kazakhstan - Was frightened
  • Kumtor mine site - felt more like a wave that moved the entire building
  • Almaty center Kazakhstan - two episodes, in succession alot of shaking sideways back and forth nothing fell off the shelves or table nothing broke
  • Kazakhstan - Windows shaking, the chandeler also! super scary
  • Almaty - Was in intercom hotel 7th floor. Bed shook and glasses on nonlinear clinked together for 20 - 30 seconds. No danger seen.
  • Taldykorgan - Felt the bed moving. Lasted for about 10 sec
  • Almaty - Sitting on the couch in my home near Dostyk Hotel, we felt for 3 to 4 minutes like the building was swinging horizontal. We noticed the TV and other furniture making horizontal swings as well.
  • Almaty - My colleague and I live in Almaty in a flat on the 6th floor of a 9 storey old building. The building swayed back and forth. My colleague thought it was due to a structural defect in the building. I was of the opinion that it was an earthquake. We felt two tremors of 20 seconds each. No damage but no idea what to do.
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    I felt the shaking *
    Country where you felt the earthquake *
    City/Village where you felt the earthquake *
    Street or suburb (area) where you felt the earthquake
    Latitude (area) where you felt the earthquake
    Longitude (area) where you felt the earthquake
    Shaking Strength *
    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) ?
    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.
    Tell us your experience and how many seconds the shaking lasted + let us know if your property has been damaged (even slight damage). (max. 500 characters)
    * mandatory fields


    1. I hope its nothing dangerous. Further comments would be appreciate.

      • Armand Vervaeck says:

        Ahmad, We do our utmost to inform the world about what is happening in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Xinjiang.

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