Strong earthquake strikes central China, killing 157, injuring thousands

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A strong earthquake struck the central Chinese province of Sichuan today, and latest reports are saying that 157 people have been killed and more than 5,500 others have been injured.

The quake, measured as magnitude 7.0 by the China Earthquake Administration, hit just after 8 a.m. local time Saturday morning (8 p.m. EDT, Friday night), in the mountains of Lushan county, in central Sichuan province.

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According to the South China Morning Post, local officials have reported that "99 per cent" of buildings have collapsed in the town of Longmenxiang, which was apparently closest to the earthquake's epicentre, and heavy damage has been reported in surrounding communities and the cities of Ya'an, 34 km to the south, and Chengdu, 115 km to the northeast.

Roads leading into the region have been blocked by landslides triggered by the quake, and power and communications lines are down as well, making it difficult for rescue workers to evaluate all locations affected, but they estimated that as many as 1.5 million people have been affected by the disaster.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which recorded the quake as magnitude 6.6, reported that this quake was felt as far away as the city of Xi'an, over 700 km to the northeast, and in the city of Guiyang, 550 km to the southwest.

Chinese sources say that there have been hundreds aftershocks have been reported since, with the USGS recording more than a dozen of them, ranging from magnitude 4.4 to 5.1 on the Richter scale.

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This same region was devastated by a 7.9-magnitude earthquake in May of 2008, that claimed nearly 70,000 lives.

(Photo courtesy: Stringer/Reuters)

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