At least 89 dead as China's Gansu region is hit by powerful earthquakes

The quake hit near the city of Dingxi in Gansu province

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The Independent Online

A strong earthquake has struck western China, killing at least 89 people and injuring 628.

The quake near the city of Dingxi in Gansu province had a magnitude of 5.9 and was shallow, with a depth of just 6 miles, according to the US Geological Survey.

The local government's earthquake monitoring centre said the quake struck at 7.45am local time.

The region of mountains, desert and pastureland has a population of 26 million. It is one of China's more lightly populated provinces, although the Dingxi area has a greater concentration of farms and towns with a total population of about 2.7 million.

The casualties were reported in Min County in the rural southern part of Dingxi district, Dingxi Mayor Tang Xiaoming told state broadcaster CCTV.

Mr Tang said damage was worst in the counties of Zhang and Min, where scores of homes were hit and telephone and electricity services knocked out.

Residents described shaking windows and swinging lights but little major damage and little panic. Shaking was felt in the provincial capital of Lanzhou 110 miles north, and as far away as Xi'an, 250 miles to the east.

"You could see the chandeliers wobble and the windows vibrating and making noise, but there aren't any cracks in the walls. Shop assistants all poured out on to the streets when the shaking began," said a front desk clerk at the Wuyang Hotel in the Zhang County seat about 25 miles from the epicentre.

Dingxi is about 766 miles west of Beijing.

China's worst earthquake in recent years was a 7.9-magnitude temblor that struck the south-western province of Sichuan in 2008, leaving 90,000 people dead or missing.