The U.S. Geological Survey says a major earthquake struck western China. The earthquake measured in at a magnitude of 7.2, which is the largest earthquake to strike this region on record. According to the Associated Press, no deaths have been attributed to the quake, but some houses have collapsed. The area is not heavily populated.
Four aftershocks have been reported having magnitudes ranging from 4.5 to 5.5.
The Associated Press says the last major earthquake in the region was a magnitude 6.8 quake in 2003 and left 268 people dead, and the deadliest earthquake in China's history was near Tangshan in 1976 killing 240,000 people.
The earthquake and its aftershocks occurred in the northern sections of the Himalaya Mountains, where Mount Everest - the world's tallest mountain peak - towers at nearly 30,000 feet above sea level. This area is prone to earthquakes as the Indian sub-continent moves farther into Asia. This geological process is also the cause for continued mountain growth in the Himalaya Mountains. It is estimated that Mount Everest grows about an inch per year due to these collisions. Relatively few people live in this region of China.