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Sunday, 27 November 2005  
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Fourteen killed, hundreds injured in China earthquake

BEIJING, Saturday (AFP)

At least 14 died, hundreds more were injured and thousands of houses collapsed when an earthquake measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale hit near a popular tourist spot in east China Saturday, officials said.

The quake, which could be felt in big industrial cities hundreds of kilometers (miles) away, struck at 8:49 am (0049 GMT), according to the China National Seismic Observation Network.

Five hours later, state television reported that 14 were confirmed dead, while the ministry of civil affairs put out a statement saying more than 370 had been injured.

The epicenter was near the city of Jiujiang, home to half a million people and a scenic spot for centuries.

Thousands of rural homes were flattened in the temblor, one official told AFP by telephone.

The US Geological Survey said the quake occurred about 10 kilometers (six miles) below the surface of the earth.

That makes it a so-called "shallow" earthquake, similar to the one that struck in Kashmir in early October, a category of tremor generally known to cause greater damage than deeper ones.

In the first hours after disaster struck, local officials struggled to assess the human toll exacted in their respective areas.

"Six people were killed in Jiujiang county," a local official told AFP by telephone. "Another 247 were injured."

An official in nearby Ruichang city said five people had been killed there, while four were seriously injured, and 35 slightly injured.

He said the two sets of casulaty figures from Jiujiang county and Ruichang city did not overlap.

One fatality was recorded near the city of Wuxue, in neighboring Hubei province, an official there said.

In and around Ruichang city, a total of 420,000 people had left their homes, apparently fearing the morning's earthquake might not be the last, according to the website of state news agency Xinhua.

A relatively powerful aftershock was felt at about 12:55 pm, the website reported.

Vacancies - UNDP

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