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A magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck south-central China near Dali on May 21, 2021 at 9:48 pm local time (May 21 at 13:48 UTC) followed by a magnitude 7.3 on May 22 at 2:04 am local time (May 21 at 18:04 UTC). Seismic instruments indicate both earthquakes originated at a depth of 6.2 miles (10 kilometers).

The M6.1 earthquake struck about 17 miles (28 km) northwest of the densely populated city of Dali. Perceived shaking for this quake was severe. 

The M7.3 earthquake struck about 620 miles (1000 km) to the north-northeast in the Southern Qinghai region of central China ~250 miles (400 km) southeast of Xining. Perceived shaking for this quake was also severe. 

The tectonic motion in this region is driven by collision between the India and Eurasia plates. While both events happened close in time, the large distance (~620 miles or 1000 km) between them indicates they are unlikely to be directly related. 

USGS scientists expect that both events will trigger aftershocks, but these will decrease in frequency over time.  

Visit the USGS earthquake event pages (M6.1 and M7.3) for more information. For estimates of casualties and damage, visit the USGS Prompt Assessment of Global Earthquakes for Response (PAGER) websites (M6.1 and M7.3). If you felt this earthquake, report your experience on the “Felt Report – Tell Us!” pages (M6.1 and M7.3). 

The USGS operates a 24/7 National Earthquake Information Center in Colorado that can be reached for more information at 303-273-8500. 

Learn more about the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program

We will update this story if more information becomes available. 

Earthquake Information/Resources 

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