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Earthquake claims 14 lives in east China

BEIJING: Fourteen persons have so far been killed and 20 others seriously injured in an earthquake measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale on Saturday in a region between Jiujiang and Ruichang in east China's Jiangxi Province.

Information from the State Seismic Bureau said five of the death toll occurred in Ruichang City, and seven in Jiujiang, where 20 persons were also seriously injured, and two more in Wuxue, a city facing Jiujiang across the Yangtze River in central China's Hubei Province.

The quake was also felt in northern Jiangxi Province, eastern Hubei Province, southern Anhui Province, north-western Zhejiang Province and north-eastern Hunan Province.

China National Seismic Observation Network monitored a quake that jolted northern Jiangxi around 8:49 a.m. local time on Saturday, with the epicentre being located at 29.7 degree north latitude, 115.7 degree east longitude.

The State Seismic Bureau sent two work teams to give guidance to rescue operation in the quake-hit area. Teams dispatched by local seismic bureaux of Jiangxi, Hubei and Fujian provinces are also on their way to the quake-stricken region to render help.

Most of the damage occurred in Ruichang and in the popular resort town of Jiujiang, it said. Several counties in neighbouring Hubei were also affected.

Hundreds of buildings were destroyed and thousands damaged.

Chinese Central Television news showed rows of crumbled brick buildings and deep cracks in the walls of buildings still standing in Ruichang.

The news showed a young boy with his head heavily bandaged and a man crying on a bench as he cradled an injured leg. An old man and his injured wife shared a cot at a makeshift medical centre set up in the street.

Many people in Ruichang, which has a population of about 420,000 people, were staying outside for fear of more aftershocks and 1,000 tents were being sent to the area.

Temperatures in the region were relatively mild, hovering around 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit), weather reports said. — Xinhua, AP

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