Southwest China quake kills 22

Other News Materials 30 August 2008 20:39 (UTC +04:00)

An earthquake hit southwest China's Sichuan and Yunnan provinces on Saturday, killing 22 people and injuring about 126 as homes in rural villages collapsed, state media reported.

Nearly 1,000 houses were destroyed, burying some people in the ruins, and cracks appeared in the walls of more than 400 other homes, the Xinhua news agency reported.

"A large number of houses have collapsed," Qi Kaihong, deputy chief of the Huili county publicity department, told Chinese state television.

"Locals in the county rushed out into the open. Cracks appeared on house walls and many windows were broken," Xinhua quoted Zheng Zhouwei, a local legislator in Yongren county, as saying.

The epicentre of the quake, which struck around 4:30 p.m. local time, was about 20 miles (30 km) southeast of Panzhihua, near Sichuan's border with Yunnan, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The quake was about 6 miles (10 km) deep.

The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 5.7 and Xinhua said it measured 6.1 on the Richter scale.

Mobile phone services in the area were disrupted and poor communications were hindering authorities' efforts to make a complete casualty count, Xinhua said.

Parts of Sichuan province were devastated by an earthquake that killed about 70,000 people in May. The province, known for its pandas and fiery cuisine, has struggled to rebuild after the disaster, which left 10 million people homeless, Reuters reported.