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Large-scale evacuation underway as one killed in Yunnan quake

AT least one person was killed in the 6.0-magnitude earthquake that shook southwest China's Yunnan Province yesterday, local authorities said today.

The victim, a 50-year-old woman, was buried in debris of collapsed houses and died later in hospital due to serious blood loss, according to the publicity department of the government of Yao'an County, the epicenter.

The disaster-relief headquarters have put the number of people injured in the quake at 325, 24 of whom are in serious condition.

More than 1,000 soldiers and police officers, including some 300 dispatched by the neighboring Sichuan Province, were helping local residents to move to safe places.

The headquarters said more than 400,000 people in the quake zone need to be evacuated or relocated.

Officials were distributing tents, medicine and food to local residents.

More than 18,000 houses collapsed and 75,000 were damaged in Yao'an and five other counties, all administered by Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture.

The lives of 1.26 million people have been more or less disrupted and the quake has so far incurred 2.5 billion yuan (US$365.9 million) in economic losses, according to the headquarters.

The quake occurred at 7:19 pm, at a depth of about 10 kilometers, with the epicenter in the county's Guantun Township, about 200 km from the provincial city of Kunming.

"I was harvesting tobacco leaves in the farm when the quake hit. I felt dizzy and saw villagers falling over and many houses collapsed," said Dong Zhaofu, a farmer of Guantun Village in Yao'an.

"We were so helpless and hopeless until throngs of rescuers came," he said.

Dong Zhihui, another villager of Guantun, said his daughter was hit by falling rocks and broke her foot. All his properties, including two pigs and 400 kilograms of rice, were buried under the rubble.

Strong tremors were felt in Chuxiong, Lijiang City, Kunming and Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture.

The quake was followed by eight aftershocks measuring 3 to 4.1 on the Richter scale, three centered in Yao'an and the other five centered in the neighboring Dayao County.

Yunnan governor Qin Guangrong, who was instructing the relief campaign at the site, ordered 20 million yuan for disaster relief.

He called upon local authorities and disaster relief forces to ensure people's security and daily consumption supply while enforcing quake monitoring.

The civil affairs department of Yunnan Province has allocated 4,500 tents, 3,000 quilts and other relief materials to Yao'an.


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