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Inner Mongolia quake injures 100
By Liang Chao (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-26 00:51

At least 100 people were injured, three of them seriously, during an earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale that rattled a sparsely populated central-eastern part of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region early on Wednesday, authorities confirmed.

Cracks can be clearly seen in many residential houses.

Hundreds of school or hospital buildings at the epicenter and surrounding areas were seriously damaged, but no deaths of people were reported by late Thursday, an unnamed official with the Inner Mongolian disaster-relief department told China Daily Thursday.

The relief materials and some medicine are being sent to the nine heaviest-hit villages and towns with the help of soldiers.

More than 2,500 personnel from local reserve forces are working hard with the soldiers stationed nearby to help the quake victims.

Some 40 per cent of residential houses in and around the epicentre suffered damage, according to local reports reaching Beijing Thursday.

The local government was said to have earmarked 660,000 yuan (US$79,500) for rescue and relief operations to help victims work through their difficulties.

The epicentre is in a vast pasture area with a population of 140,000 and houses there are normally brick-and-wood sheds, said sources from the China Seismological Bureau.

"By Thursday, 15 aftershocks with a maximum of 3.5 on the Richter scale were monitored following the major shocks - the strongest of its type this year in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, experts are tracing the disaster situation, investigating and verifying the damage it caused," said Zeng Guoping, an official of Inner Mongolia's regional seismological bureau.

"Basic reports about the disaster situation are expected to be figured out in the next day or so."

Experts held that within 24 hours another quake over 5.5 degrees is not likely in the area, but quakes of 5.0 degrees or below are possible.

"That was only an internal prediction made by a few of experts," Zeng said, indicating no one can deny a strong aftershock could occur in the days ahead.

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