Beijing: A shallow 5.9-magnitude earthquake jolted awake residents of China's northwestern Qinghai province on Thursday, with some choosing to sleep in their cars out of fear despite freezing temperatures of -20C (-4F).
The quake hit at 1:13 am local time (1713 GMT) at a depth of just 10 kilometres (six miles), the United States Geological Survey said, with no reports of casualties.
China's Earthquake Networks Center put the magnitude higher at 6.4.
A 3.4-magnitude aftershock was reported minutes after the initial quake, according to state news agency Xinhua.
Its epicentre was in Menyuan county, around 123 kilometres from the provincial capital of Xining, according to state media and USGS, where residents woke to shaking buildings and many ran outside.
"The tremor lasted one to two minutes... with a rumbling noise," Ma Wulong, a Menyuan resident, told Xinhua.
"I was waken up from sleep by the jolt," said a man surnamed Han in Xining, the capital city of the province.
"The table and the closets were all shaking violently, so I just got dressed and run outside," he was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
China is regularly hit by earthquakes, but more regularly in its southwestern provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan.
In October 2014, hundreds of people were injured and more than 100,000 displaced after a shallow 6.0 magnitude tremor hit Yunnan province, close to China's borders with Myanmar and Laos.
In May 2008, a 7.9 magnitude quake rocked Sichuan, killing more than 80,000 people and flattening swathes of the province in China's worst earthquake for more than three decades.