An earthquake in China's Sichuan province, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, has killed thousands of residents, and aftershocks may continue to affect the region in the coming days, according to local reports and seismologists.
Reports on the number of dead varied, but recently estimates were between 7,600 and nearly 8,600.
While some offices in Shanghai were reportedly evacuated, traders said earlier that the quake didn't have
in the city.
reported that trading will be suspended Tuesday in 45 companies, including
Sichuan Changhong Electric
Chongqing Iron & Steel
, that are located in Sichuan province and Chongqing. Also, the report said,
had damage to more than 2,000 of its base stations.
In Hong Kong,
canceled two flights from Hong Kong to London, and delayed another by 19 hours, according to local reports.
The giant quake, which struck Beichuan county, outside Chengdu, occurred at 2:28 p.m. local time and was felt as far away as Bangkok. Seismologists said that several mini-earthquakes have erupted in the area since the big tremor, and that there is a high risk of subsequent earthquakes in the area over the coming weeks.
"There will be aftershocks on the same fault system for weeks to months afterwards," said David Booth, a seismologist at the British Geological Survey Research Council. "There have been at least 20 aftershocks occurring at a magnitude of 6, which is a huge earthquake in its own right."
While Shanghai's A-share market was not affected as a result of the earthquake, previous ongoing natural disasters in China have sent inflation skyrocketing and brought industry grinding to a halt.
In February, heavy snowstorms resulted in the month's highest-ever inflationary number, at 8.7%, and sent the Shanghai Composite Index diving around 16% by mid-March. Most affected were stocks such as
China Life Insurance
and China Mobile.
In the same time period, U.S.-listed Chinese search engine
lost more than 10% of its value.
The earthquake coincided with the delivery of the first supplies of aid to Myanmar, where a cyclone has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
Daniel M. Harrison is a business journalist specialising in European and emerging markets, in particular Asia. He has an MBA from BI, Norway and a blog at
. He lives in New York.