At least 64 dead in China as series of quakes hits remote area


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The Independent Online

A series of earthquakes destroyed houses and triggered landslides in a remote mountainous area in south-western China yesterday, killing at least 64 people with the toll expected to rise.

A 5.6-magnitude shock hit just before 11.30am along the borders of Guizhou and Yunnan provinces, and another equally big quake struck shortly after noon, followed by more than 60 aftershocks, Chinese and US government seismologists said. Hardest hit was Yiliang County, where 49 victims were killed. Another 150 people in the county were injured.

China Central Television footage showed hundreds of people crowding into what looked like a school sports field in Yiliang, the county seat, a sizeable town spread along a river in a valley bottom.

With some roads impassable, rescuers had yet to reach some outlying villages and towns, Xinhua News Agency said.

Earthquakes are relatively common in the region. In 2008, a 7.9-magnitude quake hit Sichuan province, just north of Yunnan, killing nearly 90,000 people, with many of the deaths blamed on poorly built structures, including schools.