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Deaths reported as quake hits China's Sichuan province

شعار Al Jazeera Al Jazeera 08/08/2017

At least five people have been reportedly killed, and dozens have been injured after a strong earthquake struck China's southwestern region, officials said.

China's National Commission for Disaster Reduction reported that the 6.5 quake hit Sichuan province, and it warned that the death toll could be higher. 

More than 130,000 houses may be damaged, it said in a statement posted on its website, based on a preliminary analysis of the disaster.

The Sichuan earthquake agency said the epicentre of the tremor was in Ngawa prefecture, largely populated by ethnic Tibetans, many of whom are nomadic herders, but also close to the Jiuzhaigou nature reserve, a popular tourist destination.

Al Jazeera's Rob McBride, reporting from Beijing, said there have been reports that the magnitude of the quake could be as high as 7, adding that it was shallow in depth at 15km below the earth's surface.  

Pictures on state media-run social media sites showed some damage in Jiuzhaigou, with tiles having fallen from buildings and people rushing for safety.

State television cited a resident in a village near Jiuzhaigou as saying no buildings had collapsed where he was, but that there had been strong shaking and people had fled outdoors.

A police official told state television that there had been some panic among the tourists when the quake hit.

The official Xinhua news agency quoted a Jiuzhaigou tourism official as saying that some houses had collapsed or cracked and authorities were organising evacuations.

Shaking was felt in the provincial capital Chengdu and as far away as Xian, home of the Terracotta Warriors, according to users of Chinese social media.

A quake in Sichuan in May 2008 killed almost 70,000 people.

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