China yesterday evacuated nearly 60,000 people in its mountainous southwest after a strong earthquake killed at least 19, rattling a region where memories of a 2008 seismic disaster that left 87,000 people dead or missing remain fresh.
The 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck Sichuan province late on Tuesday, tearing cracks in mountain highways, triggering landslides, damaging buildings and sending panicked residents and tourists fleeing into the open.
The provincial government said that most of the tourists -- many stranded at a popular national park near the epicentre -- have been evacuated after spending a nervous night out in the open as more than 1,000 aftershocks rippled across the region.
Locals will also be moved to safer ground, according to the authorities.
The quake killed at least 19 people and injured at least 263, 10 of them seriously, official news agency Xinhua quoted local officials as saying. Two foreigners, a French man and a Canadian woman, are among the injured.
More than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) to the northwest, a 6.3-magnitude tremor shook the far-western border region of Xinjiang yesterday morning, according to the US Geological Survey.
The Xinjiang quake, which was followed by aftershocks of 5.2 and 5.3 magnitude, injured 32 people and damaged more than 1,000 homes, Xinhua said.