The north China city of Tangshan was hit by a magnitude 5.1 earthquake on Sunday morning, stirring memories of the massive tremor that rocked the region in 1976, killing at least 242,000 people.
The quake happened at about 6.38am in the city in Hebei province about 180km (112 miles) east of Beijing, according to state media reports.
While there were no reports of any deaths or injuries, the force of the blast was said to have been felt as far away as the capital.
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The Beijing Earthquake Agency said in a statement on Weibo – China’s Twitter-like platform – that Sunday’s tremor was related to the magnitude 7.8 Great Tangshan Earthquake that struck 44 years ago, as it happened in its aftershock zone.
The quakes were caused by a geological fault in the region, the agency said, adding that the likelihood of tremors of magnitude 5 or above happening remained low.
Sunday’s tremor was the largest of 17 to hit an area with a 300km radius monitored by the agency – which also includes several other important cities, like Tianjin – in the past five years, it said.
While video footage shared online showed some minor damage to houses and other structures in the city, the Tangshan Emergency Department said that “only some old buildings” had reported cracks.
“The public remains calm and the social order is normal,” it said.
In one piece of footage, buildings shook as dust and debris fell from the ceiling and light fittings swung. In another, food and other items could be seen strewn across the floor of a supermarket after shelves collapsed.
Several residents of Beijing and Tianjin said on social media they had been woken up by the tremor, but there were no reports of any serious damage.
The initial quake was followed by two minor aftershocks within an hour, the media reports said.
The epicentres were all in the Guye district of the city.
The devastating quake of 1976 hit Tangshan on July 28, in the final days of Mao Zedong and his Cultural Revolution.
At the time, Beijing was slow to announce any information about the tragedy and the actual death toll has remained a topic of debate ever since. In a report published three years later, state mew agency Xinhua said the earthquake had killed at least 242,000 people and injured more than 164,000.
The magnitude 8 quake that hit southwest China’s Sichuan province on May 12, 2008 killed more than 87,000 people and injured 370,000 others.
Rail services in the Tangshan region were suspended briefly on Sunday morning for safety checks, but were resuming by the afternoon.
“After an examination of the lines by the railway authorities, the passenger trains affected by the earthquake in Tangshan have started to resume operations gradually,” China Railway Beijing Group said.
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This article Chinese city of Tangshan hit by magnitude 5.1 quake, stirring memories of 1976 tragedy first appeared on South China Morning Post