Earthquake in China: A disastrous wakeup call

BEIJING - A strong earthquake rumbled through a swath of western China's mountainous Xinjiang region Monday, killing at least 10 people and causing the collapse of hundreds of homes near the border with Kazakhstan, the government said. Thirty-four people were reported injured and more than 700 houses fell, the official Xinhua News Agency said. The 6.1-magnitude quake, in the sparsely populated Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, hit at 9:38 a.m. local time Monday, Xinhua said. It said the quake was felt for many miles around. "I was just getting up out of bed, and everything in my house was rattling. The wall was vibrating," said a resident of Zhaosu County, where the quake hit hard. He identified himself only as Mr. Wu. "Fortunately, my house is made out of brick — not wood and sand." At least 10 people were confirmed dead as of early Monday afternoon, Xinhua said, adding that 34 were injured. "Houses that were built in the 1960s and 1970s all collapsed," said an official at the Xinjiang Seismological Bureau who gave only his surname, Xie. The U.S. Geological Service's National Earthquake Information Center in Colorado confirmed the tremor but said it was slightly less strong — magnitude 5.7. Rescue teams were en route to the area, Xinhua said, and investigators for the State Seismological Bureau were also on the way. Xinjiang, a seismically active area, was the site of the most lethal quake in China this year — a magnitude-6.8 temblor on Feb. 24 that killed 268 people. China's deadliest earthquake in modern history struck the northeastern city of Tangshan on July 28, 1976, killing some 240,000 people. Its magnitude was measured at 7.8 to 8.2.

Source: The Associated Press, Xinhua

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