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Quake Hits Remote Chinese Town

A powerful earthquake jolted the busy bazaar town of Kashgar in remote Xinjiang province late Tuesday, killing at least 24 people and knocking down buildings.

The death toll is expected to rise, as communications links were knocked out in some of the hardestit areas, making immediate assessment damage and casualties difficult.

Officials at earthquake bureaus in Xinjiang and Beijing said the quake struck about 11 p.m. (10 a.m. EST), with the epicenter about 35 miles northeast of Kashgar.

The quake opened up a 2,000-foot-long crack in a nearby dike and water was leaking out, the officials said Wednesday. Efforts were under way to close the gap.

The remote area, about 2,000 miles west of Beijing, near China’s border with Kazakstan, is a relatively busy commercial crossroads along the old Silk Road that once connected East to West. Many of its inhabitants are Kazaks and other ethnic minorities.

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