An earthquake of magnitude 7.8 with its epicenter in northeast Sichuan province's Wenchuan County took place today just 90 km (55 miles) west-northwest of the provincial capital Chengdu, population 11 million. Tremors from the quake were felt throughout China.
Reports of damage or casualties have yet to emerge, but Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is now headed to Sichuan to survey the damage and the People's Liberation Army has been mobilized to assist in any aid and rescue efforts.
The earthquake took place at 2:28 pm Beijing time, with tremors being felt in Kunming around 2:35. Tremors were also felt in Beijing, 1,545 km (960 miles) northeast of Wenchuan, but their origin is still unclear. Xinhua is reporting that a second earthquake took place in Tongzhou, part of Beijing Municipality, at 2:35 pm today.
Chengdu's airport has been closed, with some flights being diverted to Kunming Wujiaba International Airport.
GoKunming has contacted friends in Chengdu who are reporting widespread building evacuations but no major damage due to the Wenchuan quake. Utilities and public transportation are also reportedly unaffected.
Update: At least 10,000 are dead, with that number expected to rise. The Chinese military is sending 27,000 troops - including 3,000 special forces - to assist affected areas.
Chengdu image: Xinhua
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