Chinese authorities have initiated a grade-IV emergency response to a 6.5-magnitude earthquake that killed three people in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Friday.
The quake rocked Pishan County at 9:07 a.m., with its epicenter recorded at 37.6 degrees north latitude and 78.2 degrees east longitude. It struck at a depth of 10 km, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC).
The Ministry of Civil Affairs and the China National Commission for Disaster Reduction has sent teams to assist relief work in the quake-hit areas, urging preparation of relief materials. A total of 1,000 tents have been sent to the county.
A grade-IV response, the lowest in China's emergency response system, means a 24-hour alert, daily damage reports, and dispatching money and relief materials within 48 hours.
More than 500 soldiers and militia members from Lanzhou military area command have been dispatched to search for victims in the quake. A 22-member medical team was also sent to Pishan.
Shortly after the quake, several minor tremors measuring between 3.0 and 4.6 magnitude rocked the area, according to the CENC. About 3,000 houses have been destroyed.
Located in southernmost Xinjiang, Pishan is about 1,800 km away from the regional capital of Urumqi and covers 39,700 square km.
With a population of 258,000, the county is mainly inhabited by people of Uygur ethnicity.