8/3/14 Wenping China Quake

Updated 8/3/14

The 6.1 M quake struck at 08:30 UTC (4:30 PM Local Time) 8/3/14. The epicenter was near Wenping, 18 mi from Zhaotong in Yunnan province. This area is at the base of the Himalayas, in Southwestern China.

News reports put the death toll at 367, with 1300 injured. Over 12,000 buildings have collapsed and 30,000 were damaged. People ran into the street when the quake struck.  Rescuers worked with shovels in their search for survivors.  The government is sending at least 2,000 tents, cots, coats and quilts. Communication with the affected area has been hampered because electricity and phone lines have been damaged. The area has been hit with thunderstorms and landslides that have made the rescue efforts more difficult.

This quake struck  in an area to the east of the Himalayas. Seismic activity in this area is driven by the same forces that raised the mountains.  This area is feeling the effects of the collision between the Indian tectonic plate and the Eurasian plate. (See the Plate Tectonics page for more information on this process).  Over the past few millions of years the Indian plate traveled across the Indian Ocean, finally slamming into Eurasia with enough power to crumple the landscape and push the Himalaya mountains 5 miles above sea level.  This collision is still occurring. Stresses in the earth's crust continue to produce earthquakes, some of them much larger than this one. See the USGS report on this quake.

Here are some news stories:

Chinese earthquake kills hundreds in Yunnan province (BBC 8/3/14)

Strong earthquake kills at least 367 in southern China (KING 5 8/3/14)