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Yunnan quake kills 3; over 600 injured
Updated: 2004-08-11 17:23

Villagers were living outdoors and hospitals were jammed after a strong earthquake shook China's southwest, killing up to three people and injuring as many as 600, officials said Wednesday.

Some 92 aftershocks have been felt since the magnitude-5.6 quake struck Ludian County in earthquake-prone Yunnan province on Tuesday evening, county official Shi Zaiqing said by telephone.

State television reported that three people were killed, after originally giving the figure as five in an earlier broadcast.

Shi put the death toll at two and said 422 people were injured when the quake rolled through the area at 6:26 p.m. (1326 GMT). He said residents were evacuated.

The area's three hospitals ``all were packed with injured people,'' he said.

The quake Tuesday caused 5,175 houses to collapse and damaged thousands more, according to a statement on the county government's Web site.

By Wednesday afternoon, the Xinhua News Agency reported that 600 were injured, with 142 seriously. The report quoted Deng Xianpei, mayor of Zhaotong, a city where one person was killed.

Residents were living in tents or sleeping outdoors, but summer temperatures were comfortable and supplies of drinking water and food were adequate, Shi said.

In its noon newscast, China Central Television showed huge piles of rubble and partially collapsed brick buildings at the earthquake site. Scores of people, some with bandages around their heads, were crammed into a room apparently serving as a makeshift shelter. Some slept on the floor while others sat on thin mattresses.

Doctors and nurses were shown treating the injured. Trucks delivering emergency supplies to the area drove down a dark, winding road.

An official from the China Seismological Bureau interviewed at the site said about 120,000 people had been affected by the quake. The official, identified only by his surname, Xu, said about 3,000 tents and medical supplies were scheduled to arrive Wednesday.

Ludian county, with about 370,000 people, is one of China's poorest areas.

The epicenter was 255 kilometers (160 miles) north of Kunming, the provincial capital.

In November, two quakes measuring magnitude-5.1 and 5.0 rocked the Ludian area, killing four people and injuring 120.

Elsewhere in Yunnan, a magnitude-6.2 tremor in July 2003 killed 16 people, while another last October killed three.

Hou Jiansheng, a seismologist at the China Seismological Bureau, said late Tuesday night that the number of dead and injured in Ludian may rise because ``it's a poor rural area and their facilities aren't too good.''

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