Dharamshala — A 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck near Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, eastern Tibet, on Tuesday evening, reportedly killing 19 people and injuring 247.
Six tourists are thought to be among the dead, with up to 45,000 people evacuated from the area.
According to US Geological services, the epicenter of the quake was 284 kilometres (176 miles) north of the provincial capital Chengdu and struck at a depth of 10 kilometers. Another quake registering 6.3 magnitude in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, close to the border to Kazakhstan, earlier this morning was also reported. More than 1,000 aftershocks had been detected, with the most powerful reaching 4.8 magnitude on Wednesday.
It is feared that as debris and rubble of the 130,000 houses and properties damaged in the quake is slowly unearthed, the death toll will rise.
Emergency response operations have been activated by transport agencies and local airports to aid evacuations and allow rescue vehicles into the area.
More than 87,000 people were killed in an earthquake in Sichuan province in 2008.