7.0 magnitude quake hits China, 72 killed

Beijing: At least 72 people were killed and hundreds of others injured today when a powerful 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked southwest China's Sichuan province causing massive destruction.

The quake hit Lushan county of Ya'an city in southwest China's Sichuan Province at 8:02 am local time, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC).

The epicenter of the earthquake was reported to be at a depth of 13 Kms and was monitored at 30.3 degrees north latitude and 103.0 degrees east longitude.

At least 72 people were killed and 600 others injured, China's state-run CCTV reported, while officials said the number of injured people could be over a thousand.

This is the second major quake to hit Sichuan in five years.

Over 90,000 people were killed in the 8-magnitude quake in 2008. The province is located in the quake prone Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Sichuan is located close to the Tibet.

Pictures on the state run CCTV showed extensive damage to buildings.

The quake was strongly felt by residents in Sichuan's capital city of Chengdu, which is about 140 kilometres from Ya'an. The airport in Chengdu was closed as it suffered the damage.

A resident in Chengdu, who was on the 13th floor of a building said he felt the building shaking for about 20 seconds and he saw tiles fall off nearby buildings, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

People in Leshan city of Sichuan Province, and neighbouring Chongqing Municipality also felt the earthquake.

More than 2,000 soldiers were rushed to the area hit by the 7.0-magnitude quake for rescue and relief work, military sources said. The soldiers were from the Chengdu Military Area Command (MAC).

Meanwhile, two helicopters of the Chengdu MAC took off from Jiajiang county to learn the developments on the ground.

The Chengdu MAC has already set up a quake relief and rescue headquarters. It has also set up a medical relief team for the quake-hit region.

People in Leshan city of Sichuan Province, and neighboring Chongqing Municipality also felt the earthquake. The quake was felt in provinces of Guizhou, Gansu, Shaanxi and Yunnan.

Several aftershocks rated above 4.0-magnitude also hit the area.