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One dead after strong China quake


The quake struck in Sichuan province in western China

The quake struck in Sichuan province in western China

The quake struck in Sichuan province in western China

At least one person has died after a strong earthquake struck a lightly populated, mountainous area of western China, officials said.

The US Geological Survey said the 5.9-magnitude quake had a depth of nine miles. It struck in the late afternoon on Saturday about 20 miles from the town of Kangding in Sichuan province. China's seismological agency gave the magnitude as 6.3.

A woman in her 70s died after being struck by a falling window pane, state media said.

A duty officer at the Kangding county government said the quake lasted only a few seconds, and that there had been some reports of cracks in buildings and toppled walls.

The area is frequently struck by earthquakes, and the government officer said newly constructed buildings in the town of Kangding must be able to withstand those of up to eight in magnitude, although requirements are less strict in the surrounding rural area.

Rescue teams have been dispatched to the epicentre. The local electricity supply has not been knocked out, there were no disruptions to transport or communications, and there was no major damage to buildings in the town of Kangding.

Kangding and the surrounding county have a population of 129,320 people.

Western China is regularly hit by earthquakes. Sichuan was struck by a 7.9-magnitude quake in May 2008 that left nearly 90,000 people dead, many of them in collapsed schools and other poorly constructed buildings.

Construction standards have been significantly tightened since then and the country's disaster response capacity has improved with better equipment and trained rescue teams.

Just to the south of Sichuan, in Yunnan province, 589 people were killed by a quake this past August. In 1970, a 7.7-magnitude earthquake in Yunnan killed at least 15,000 people, and a 7.1-magnitude-quake there killed more than 1,400 in 1974.