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China Earthquake 300 die in Qinghai China earthquake April 2010

Beijing, April 14 (IANS) About 300 people were killed and more than 8,000 injured Wednesday when a devastating 7.1-magnitude earthquake tore through northwest China's Qinghai province, officials said.

Xinhua quoted local official Huang Limin as saying that the quake struck the Yushu prefecture at 7.49 a.m. at a depth of about 33 km.

At least three aftershocks quickly followed, triggering widespread destruction.

The tremors were so strong that more than 85 percent of the houses near the epicentre, Jiegu township, collapsed, said another official.

"Many people are buried in the collapsed houses, and there are lots of others who are injured and being treated at hospitals," the official said.

Chinese soldiers frantically tried to dig out those buried under tonnes of debris but the lack of heavy equipment hampered their efforts.

Shi Huajie, a police officer, said students of some primary schools were among the buried but their number was unknown.

"We have to mainly rely on our hands to clear away the debris as we have no large excavating machines. We have no medical equipment, either," he said despairingly.

Telecommunications were disrupted after the quake.

Wu Yong, a commander in the Chinese People's Liberation Army, said: "Our soldiers have pulled 10 people from the collapsed houses, but four of them had died. The death toll may rise further as lots of houses collapsed.

"We are now putting up tents and transporting oxygen to prepare for treating the injured. But roads leading to the airport have been damaged, hampering the rescue efforts."

Two rescue teams from Qinghai and Tibet have been dispatched to the quake-hit region.

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