Aug. 9 (UPI) -- The U.S. Geological Survey said a strong 6.5-magnitude earthquake rocked central China's mountainous Jiuzhaigou area in the Sichuan Province late Tuesday, killing more than a dozen people.
At least 19 people were killed and many others were injured during and after the quake, officials said.
The epicenter was located 110 miles north-northwest of the city of Jiangyou at a depth of about 5.5 miles, the USGS said in its reviewed analysis.
The quake was felt by residents more than 300 miles away. The USGS estimates economic losses between $10 million and $100 million.
"Some damage is possible and the impact should be relatively localized," the agency said in a statement. "Estimated economic losses are less than 1 percent of GDP of China. Past events with this [yellow] alert level have required a local or regional level response."
Xinhua on Wednesday reported that rescue efforts are ongoing in the rural region, in which the population is about 40 people per square mile. Seismologists forecast powerful aftershocks in the coming days, which is typical for strong earthquakes.
The death toll may increase as rescuers struggle to reach remote areas cut off from roads and communication, either due to the lack of infrastructure or due to earthquake damage.
Jiuzhaigou is a popular tourist destination that holds the the Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve -- parts of which were damaged by Tuesday's quake. Emergency officials evacuated many of the estimated 38,000 tourists in the area.
China is situated near what's known as the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an expansive area where active tectonic shifts -- like earthquakes and volcanoes -- are commonplace.