A strong earthquake has hit the southernmost part of the Tibetian Plateau 60 km north of Mt. Everest on friday (March 20th). The Chinese Earthquake Network Center (CENC) determined a local magnitude of 5.9 and a superficial depth while USGS-calculations give a moment magnitude of 5.7.
The quake hit a sparsely populated montainous region. First assessments of chinese authorities indicated that 67 (mostly small) villages might have been affected by the quake and emergency level I was issued. Further analysis showed that about 313 buildings suffered minor to moderate damage by this quake, which can be considered as intensity VI.
Our rapid disaster calculation expected a maximum intensity of VI with 20,000 potentially exposed people.
China is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world with dozens of damaging earthquakes every year. Even moderate, medium-intensity quakes can lead to widespread damage in the most densely populated areas. The rurality of this affected region prevented significant losses.
The quake, which wasn’t followed by any detected aftershock by now, resulted from a normal fault striking perpendicular to the Himalayan Thrust. Similar striking normal faults are found all over the Tibetian Plateau, often generating moderate to strong earthquakes, although the tectonic origin of this extentional quakes remains unclear.
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