China quake leaves 1 dead

An earthquake in southwest China has killed one person, injured scores and destroyed 30,000 houses. The official Xinhua news agency said as many as 159 people were hurt in Thursday's quake, in the southwest province of Yunnan, which measured 5.9 on the Richter scale. Yunnan Television put the toll at just over 60 injured. "The full casualty picture is still not clear," a Shidian Seismological Bureau official is quoted by Reuters as saying. Xinhua said the quake struck at 6.46 p.m. (11:46 a.m. British time) near the town of Shidian in a mountainous region 150 km (90 miles) east of China's border with Myanmar. Phone lines and power had been cut and aqueducts damaged, Yunnan Television said. The quake-stricken area has a population of 320,000 people, mostly Yi and Muslim Hui ethnic minorities. The seismological bureau official said landslides triggered by the earthquake had closed roads in the region, complicating efforts to reach damaged villages. Ruggedly mountainous Yunnan province, like neighbouring Sichuan to the north and Tibet to the west, is frequently shaken by earthquakes. The quake-prone areas are sparsely populated. In February, three people died and 20,000 people were left homeless when a remote area of Sichuan was hit by a tremor measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale. The region was populated mainly by ethnic Tibetans living in low wooden houses.

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