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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Earthquake strikes southwestern China

Associated Press

BEIJING – A strong, shallow earthquake shook southwestern China overnight, killing at least one person, damaging buildings and prompting thousands to camp outside as aftershocks continued to strike the area, officials said today.

The earthquake with a magnitude of at least 6.0 hit the Weiyuan city area of Yunnan province at 9:49 p.m. when most residents would have been in their homes. At least 324 people also were injured, eight of them seriously, the Yunnan provincial government said.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake measured magnitude 6.0 at a depth of 6.3 miles. Its shallow focus was likely to cause greater damage, but there were no immediate reports of serious destruction.

China’s national earthquake monitoring agency gave the quake’s magnitude as 6.6 and said it struck just 3.1 miles below the surface. It said the quake was followed by eight aftershocks, the strongest of which registered at magnitude 4.2.

Worst hit was the town of Yongping, 3 miles from the epicenter, where some houses had collapsed, Xinhua News Agency said. Yongping has a population of 54,000, while the surrounding county of Jinggu closest to the epicenter has a population of 290,000.

Residents of a community near a 2-square-mile reservoir in Jinggu were evacuated after the reservoir’s dam was found to have a 3-inch-wide crack that was leaking water following the quake. Officials were assessing the risk to the dam and seeing about repairs.

Xinhua said strong tremors were felt in the provincial capital, Kunming, about 220 miles to the northeast. A state television reporter in the city of Pu’er, about 53 miles from the epicenter, said people fled buildings and were camping outdoors in anticipation of more aftershocks.