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Major earthquake hits China

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[Beijing] According to Xinhua News agency, two powerful earthquakes struck northwest China's Gansu province, killing eight people and injuring more than 29 others, said the ministry of civil affairs on Sunday.

Four of the dead were buried under collapsed buildings and were not found until Sunday, raising the death toll from four reported earlier, the ministry was quoted by the Xinhua news agency as saying.

The quakes, measuring 6.1 and 5.8 on the Richter scale, jolted areas between Minle and Shandan counties of Gansu province's Zhangye city at 8:41 pm (1241 GMT) and 8:48 pm (1248 GMT) Saturday, the State Seismologocial Bureau was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

Eight of those injured were in serious condition, Xinhua said.

An official told AFP the final tally was not yet available.

"Approximately four townships have been affected. I don't know exactly how many people have suffered," said the official from the Zhangye city seismological bureau.

Most residents in the area are farmers or herdsmen.

More than 10,800 residential rooms were destroyed by the quakes and more than 3,000 livestock were killed or hurt, Xinhua said, citing the ministry of civil affairs. China usually records property damage in terms of rooms rather than buildings.

Sources from the Gansu provincial seismological bureau said 30 percent of the houses at the epicenter of the quakes had been severely damaged. Around 90 percent of the buildings in one village, Yaozhaizi, had collapsed, Xinhua said.

Damage was also caused to schools, grain warehouses, bridges, and water and power supplies.

Cold weather in the disaster-hit areas were adding to the problems of quake victims. Temperatures in the area dropped to minus five to six degrees Celsius (23 degrees to 21 degrees Fahrenheit) and it had snowed in the area a few days ago, Xinhua said.

[source: AFP & Xinhua]

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