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At least 5️ people have been reportedly killed 🗡️, and dozens have been injured after a strong earthquake struck China's 🇨🇳 southwestern region, officials said.
China's National Commission for Disaster Reduction reported that the 6.5 quake hit Sichuan province, and it warned that the death toll could be higher.
The Sichuan earthquake agency said the epicentre of the tremor was in Ngawa prefecture, largely populated 👨👩👧👧 by ethnic Tibetans, many of whom are nomadic herders, but also close to the Jiuzhaigou nature reserve, a popular tourist destination.
There have been reports that the magnitude of the quake could be as high as 7 ‼️, adding that it was shallow in depth at 15km below the earth's surface.
Pictures on state-run social media sites showed some damage in Jiuzhaigou, with tiles having fallen from buildings and people rushing to safety.
State television cited a resident in a village near Jiuzhaigou as saying no buildings had collapsed where he was, but that there had been strong shaking and people had fled outdoors.
Restaurant owner Tang Sesheng fled her establishment in Jiuzhaigou town after she felt the earth moving under her.
"I was also in Jiuzhaigou in 2008 during the last big quake, so I knew what it was. This felt even stronger," she told AFP news agency by phone.
She said people had come out of their homes to sit out in the town's large public square, far from any tall structures, afraid to go back inside for fear that buildings might topple.
Many were also sitting in cars, thinking it safer.
"People didn't dare grab anything like money or clothes - we just all ran outside right away."
Electricity was cut off briefly, but was then restored, she said.
The official Xinhua news agency quoted a Jiuzhaigou tourism official as saying that some houses had collapsed or cracked and authorities were organising evacuations.
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