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Hundreds dead after quake strikes Yunnan province

AFP - Rescuers carry an injured child

An earthquake of at least 6.1 magnitude struck China’s Yunnan province on Sunday, killing at least 589 people and injuring more than 1,800 with hundreds still missing, state media reported. Thousands of buildings collapsed in the quake.

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The US Geological Survey said the magnitude-6.1 quake struck at a depth of 10 kilometres (6 miles) at around 8:30 a.m. (GMT).

Most of the deaths were in Zhaotong City, the Xinhua state news agency reported.

Xinhua said that the epicentre was in Longtoushan, a town in Yunnan's Ludian county.

About 12,000 homes collapsed in Ludian, located around 366 kilometres (277 miles) northeast of Yunnan's capital, Kunming. The county is home to some 265,900 people.

Xinhua said the quake was felt most strongly in Yunnan but was also felt in the neighbouring provinces of Guizhou and Sichuan.

The government is sending 2,000 tents, 3,000 folding beds, 3,000 quilts and 3,000 coats to the disaster zone, the news agency said.

Ma Liya, a resident of Ludian’s county seat, told Xinhua that the streets there looked like a “battlefield after bombardment”. She added that her neighbour’s house, a new two-storey building, had toppled in the quake.

Chen Guoyong, the head of Longtoushan township, told the state news agency that many houses there had collapsed, and that rescue workers were working to determine the number of casualties.

Photos on the Chinese social media site Weibo showed several people apparently injured amid toppled bricks.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said the quake was the strongest to hit Yunnan in 14 years. It reported that the quake had loosened rocks that blocked a road near the city of Zhaotong and broadcast an image of a car apparently damaged by debris.

In 1970, a magnitude-7.7 earthquake in Yunnan killed at least 15,000 people and a magnitude-7.1 quake in the province killed more than 1,400 in 1974.

In 2008 more than 55,000 people died in a massive 8.0-magnitude quake that struck Sichuan province on May 12, according to government figures.

In September 2012, 81 people died and 821 were injured in a series of quakes in the Yunnan region.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

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