A powerful earthquake hit Tajikistan near the border with China

DUSHANBE, Feb 23 (Reuters) – An earthquake measuring about 6.8 on the Richter scale struck eastern Tajikistan at 5:37 a.m. (0037 GMT) on Thursday, Tajik officials said, and was felt in China and other neighboring countries.

The earthquake hit the mountainous Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous region earlier this month, which has been hit by a series of deadly avalanches. Although sparsely populated, it is home to a large lake, the Sares, which, if disturbed, would flood a vast area spanning several countries.

Tajik officials said there were no signs the lake had been drained by the quake.

The quake was about 82 km (50.95 miles) from China’s nearest border and was felt strongly in parts of China’s western Xinjiang region, including Kashgar and Artux, Chinese state television CCTV reported, with a magnitude of 7.2.

In Korno-Batakshan in nearby Rushon district, a local resident said many people rushed outside after being woken by the quake, which was followed by at least two aftershocks.

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No casualties were reported in Tajikistan or China. Electricity and communications are normal in Kashgar, state media Xinhua reported.

The Xinjiang Railway Department has called for the suspension of passenger trains from Aksu to Kashgar on the Southern Xinjiang Railway, state media reported.

Local authorities are inspecting bridges, tunnels and signal equipment, CCTV said.

Statement by Nazarali Purnazarov and the Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Stephen Coates and Emilia Sithole-Madaris

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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