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Dozens of houses collapse in China quake

02 november 2011, 18:44
A moderate earthquake in remote northwestern China has destroyed dozens of houses and damaged many more, but there have been no reported casualties, AFP reports, citing government officials and state media Tuesday.

More than 50 houses collapsed and hundreds of homes were damaged after the 5.4-magnitude quake jolted the border area of Yining and Gongliu counties in Xinjiang, the local earthquake bureau said on its official microblog.

The quake, which the US Geological Survey revised down to 5.4 from an initial reading of 6.0, struck at 8:21am (0021 GMT) around 96 kilometres (59 miles) east of the city of Yining, at a depth of 27 kilometres.

The China Earthquake Administration said the quake was believed to have caused "major damage" and "strong shaking" was felt in neighbouring counties, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

A special working group had been dispatched to the area to assess the damage and coordinate relief efforts, it added.

Xinjiang is a vast region with a population of around 20 million, of which roughly nine million are Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking mainly Muslim ethnic minority.

A 5.2-magnitude earthquake struck the region in August, injuring at least 26 people, three of them critically, and destroying more than 30 residential buildings.

Earlier on Tuesday, another moderate earthquake measuring 5.5 hit the Sichuan-Gansu border area in China's southwest, a region devastated by an 8.0-magnitude quake in 2008.

An official in Qingchuan county in Sichuan province, where the quake struck at 05:58 am (2158 GMT), told AFP: "It is not very serious".

Another official said the quake had cracked walls and dislodged roof tiles in mountain areas but there had been no reports of casualties or economic losses.

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