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Major quake hits western China

BEIJING – A major earthquake struck western China early today, but there were no reports of casualties.

The 7.2-magnitude quake hit at 6:33 a.m., about 140 miles southeast of the city of Hotan in southwest Xinjiang province, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

A spokesman for China’s Earthquake Administration said there were no reports of injuries. The area is sparsely populated.

There were four aftershocks in the region, ranging from 5.0 to 5.2 magnitude, according to a notice on the Web site of the administration.

Dale Grant, a USGS geophysicist, described the area as “very seismically active,” but said today’s temblor was the biggest on record.

Xinjiang is a predominantly Muslim region with a culture distinctly different from that of China’s ethnic Han majority.

China’s Earthquake Administration said the last earthquake in the Hotan area struck in 1992, with a 5.9 magnitude.


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