There have been no reports of casualties.

 

A man who answered the phone at a branch of the Holiday Inn in the city said the quake lasted about five minutes and there were several aftershocks.

 

"We all felt very scared," he said, but added that he had not heard of any major damage such as collapsed buildings or casualties.

 

Jessica Sigala of the US Geological Survey based in Colorado, said the quake struck at a relatively shallow depth, so aftershocks could be expected.

 

She added that quakes of magnitude 7.5 do have the potential to cause significant structual damage. 

 

China's deadliest earthquake in recent memory hit the eastern city of Tangshan in 1976.

 

The magnitude 7.8 earthqauke followed by an equally powerful aftershock almost a day later killed around 240,000 people.