32 hurt, 2 seriously as tremors strike Xinjiang

China landslide sichuan gengdi

A 7.0-magnitude natural disaster in China's southwestern Sichuan province has so far claimed lives of 20 people and injured 431 others, local authorities said Thursday.

THIRTY-TWO people were injured and more than 1,000 houses damaged when a 6.6-magnitude quake struck Jinghe County in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region yesterday morning.

A second natural disaster of 6.6 magnitude was reported on Wednesday at 7.27 am, at a depth of 11km, in Xinjiang province, injuring 32, Xinhua reported.

The dead included eight tourists, two residents and nine whose identities have yet to be confirmed, state television said.

As the quake took place during the flood period and tourism season, authorities should enhance meteorological early warning and geological monitoring to guard against other disasters and try their best to protect people's lives and property, he added.

Photos showed damage to buildings including a hotel in Jiuzhaigou, home to one of China's most famous nature reserves and a Unesco World Heritage site.

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As the quake knocked out power and phone networks, rescuers dug through rubble with their hands.

Jiuzhaigou is an area populated largely by ethnic Tibetans and Qiang people.

Dynasty Travel's director of public relations and communications Alicia Seah said the tour agency is closely monitoring the situation to ensure the safety of its customers who are continuing their tour in the region.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported a magnitude-6.5 quake, while state media cited a magnitude-7.0 quake.

The tremor evoked memories of a devastating 8.0-magnitude quake in the region in 2008 that left 87,000 people dead or missing, but the impact of Tuesday's disaster was comparatively light. Shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage than deeper ones. The quake occurred near Jiuzhaigou (Jee-oh Jai GO), or Jiuzhai Valley, a national park known for spectacular waterfalls and karst formations.

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