Strong 6.8 earthquake strikes China's Xinjiang

AFP , Wednesday 12 Feb 2014

A strong 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck China's far western region of Xinjiang on Wednesday, the US Geological Survey said.

The tremor was only 12.5 kilometres (eight miles) deep but hit about 270 kilometres east-southeast of Hotan, the USGS said, in an extremely remote part of the region.

China's Earthquake Networks Centre gave the magnitude as 7.3, adding that another quake of magnitude 5.7 struck five minutes later. Both occurred in late afternoon.

State broadcaster CCTV reported that a journalist felt the shaking as far away as Hotan.

China is regularly hit by earthquakes, especially its mountainous western and southwestern regions.

Once a link on the Silk Road, Xinjiang covers 1.7 million square kilometres (660,000 square miles) -- a sixth of China's territory.

It is home to the country's mostly Muslim Uighur minority, and has seen sporadic attacks on police amid complaints by the ethnic group of religious and cultural repression.

Beijing has justified tighter security in the area to stem a separatist movement it claims has links with foreign terrorist groups.

Xinjiang is rich in natural resources, containing roughly 30 percent of China's onshore oil and gas deposits and 40 percent of its coal, according to the official website

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