BEIJING (Agencies): A powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 5.5 struck Pingyuan county in Dezhou, East China’s Shandong Province, leaving dozens of people injured and 126 homes destroyed. The earthquake, which occurred at 2:33 am on Sunday, is the strongest recorded in the province in over a decade.

The Chinese central government has taken immediate action by dispatching a working team to guide rescue and relief efforts in the affected region.

As of now, 20 people have been reported slightly injured, with most suffering from skin injuries, abrasions, and head injuries. The Pingyuan County First People’s Hospital received a total of 21 earthquake-related injured patients by Sunday morning, and fortunately, no critical cases have been reported.

The earthquake department in Shandong reported a total of 59 aftershocks, with the largest magnitude being 3.0. According to experts, the aftershocks are not expected to be as intense as the main earthquake.

Due to the earthquake’s relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometers, the impact on buildings and structures was more significant than it would have been with a deeper quake. This has raised concerns about the vulnerability of dwellings, particularly in rural areas, where earthquake-proof infrastructure needs strengthening.

Given the severity of the earthquake and its impact on the region, the State Council and the Ministry of Emergency Management have activated a national level four emergency response for earthquakes and sent a working group to Shandong to provide guidance and assistance in relief and disaster mitigation efforts.

Several rescue brigades and fire rescue teams have been mobilized to the epicenter for search and rescue operations. The Beijing Railway Bureau has also initiated an emergency response, causing varying degrees of delays for trains in the affected regions.

In other areas, such as Hebei and Tianjin, there were reports of tremors, and many netizens claimed to have been awakened by the shaking. However, there have been no reports of casualties in these regions.

China has made significant progress in enhancing its earthquake early warning capabilities. Residents in Beijing, Shandong, and nearby areas received early warning messages via mobile phones and televisions seconds before the earthquake hit.

The China Earthquake Early Warning Network, built by the Institute of Care-life and the China Earthquake Administration, provided advanced warnings of three seconds to Dezhou, 17 seconds to Jinan, and 70 seconds to Beijing. This earthquake marks the 78th seismic event detected ahead of time by authorities since 2011.

While the situation is still being assessed, the early warning systems have played a crucial role in providing residents with valuable seconds to prepare and take emergency actions.

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