The epicenter was found to be in a mountainous area along the border of Hejing and Xinyuan counties, according to the China Earthquake Networks Centre (CENC). A large number of residential houses were toppled or damaged in Xinyuan county and hundreds of cattle were killed after their sheds collapsed, a statement from the government of Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture, which administers Xinyuan, said.
The quake also triggered landslides and cave-ins on several national and regional highways in Xinjiang, bringing traffic to a halt, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. At least 24 people have been injured in the quake, local authorities said.
The CENC has launched a level-three emergency response following the quake and local authorities have sent work teams and organised rescue efforts in affected areas. Experts said the quake-hit region, located about 3,500 metres above sea level, was geologically active in history. Two earthquakes measuring more than 7 on the Richter scale have jolted the region since 1900.