24 dead, 207 injured in China quake

AFP , Thursday 10 Mar 2011

Southwest China earthquake claims at least 24 lives and reduces hundreds of houses to rubble

At least 24 people were killed and 207 others injured in an earthquake that struck a remote area of southwest China near the border with Myanmar on Thursday, a local official said.

The tremor reduced hundreds of houses to rubble, left some desperate residents trapped under buildings and triggered power cuts in the surrounding area of China, though no casualties were reported in Myanmar.

The epicentre of the 5.4-magnitude quake, which struck at 12:58 pm (0458 GMT), was located about 225 kilometres (140 miles) west-southwest of the ancient city of Dali in Yunnan province, the US Geological Survey reported.

The quake hit at a depth of 34 kilometres, the USGS said, though Chinese seismologists put the depth at just 10 kilometres.

An official at the local earthquake relief headquarters in Yingjiang county told AFP by telephone that authorities had so far counted 24 dead and 207 injured.
Nearly 600 houses or apartments had collapsed in the quake, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported, citing local authorities.

Witnesses told the news agency that parts of a supermarket and hotel had caved in, and that people were buried in the debris.

State television footage showed people on stretchers out on the streets, some hooked to drips, and survivors being pulled out of debris.

The quake triggered power outages in Yingjiang county, Xinhua said, adding that three aftershocks had been registered.

Nearly 1,000 soldiers have been sent to join the rescue operation, and authorities have dispatched thousands of tents, blankets, clothes and other items, it said.

In Myanmar, official sources said no casualties had been reported yet from the tremor.

A massive earthquake rocked the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan in May 2008, leaving nearly 87,000 people dead or missing.

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