Earthquake shakes remote region of Tajikistan near China

No injuries or damage were reported

Tajikistan's Pamir Mountains, where a 6.8-magnitude quake struck the district of Murghob on Thursday. Getty
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A 6.8-magnitude earthquake has hit a remote part of Tajikistan, near China’s Xinjiang region, according to the US Geological Survey.

The quake struck 67km west of the lightly populated city of Murghob, at a depth of 20km, on Thursday morning, the agency wrote on Twitter.

It was felt across the border, where it shook some areas of Xinjiang's Kashgar prefecture and Kizilsu Kyrgyz autonomous prefecture, AP reported.

No injuries or damage were reported, according to state media CCTV.

The China Earthquake Networks Centre said the quake had a magnitude of 7.2 and struck at a depth of 10km.

Mughrob is the capital of the eponymous district that lies high in the Pamir Mountains. The city has a population of a few thousand people.

A 5.0-magnitude aftershock hit the area about 20 minutes after the initial earthquake, followed by a 4.6-magnitude tremor.

The USGS said “little or no population” would be exposed to landslides from the quake.

The quake's epicentre appeared to be in Gorno-Badakhshan, a semi-autonomous eastern region that borders Afghanistan and China.

The sparsely populated territory is surrounded by the towering Pamir Mountains and is home to Lake Sarez, which formed after an earthquake in 1911 and is among Tajikistan's largest lakes.

Behind Lake Sarez is a natural dam deep in the Pamir mountains

Experts have warned the consequences would be catastrophic if the dam were breached.

Tajikistan, like much of the rest of Central Asia, is prone to natural disasters and has a long history of floods, earthquakes, landslides, avalanches and heavy snowfalls.

Nine people died in a February 15 avalanche in Gorno-Badakhshan, while another person was killed the same day in an avalanche on a major road near the capital Dushanbe.

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Updated: February 23, 2023, 8:16 AM