56 dead, 400 injured in 7.0-magnitude earthquake in SW China

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  CHENGDU -- Fifty-six people were killed in the 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Southwest China's Sichuan province, according to the provincial government at a press conference Saturday.

The earthquake hit Lushan county of Ya'an city in Sichuan province at 8:02 am Saturday Beijing Time, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC).

The epicenter, with a depth of 13 km, was monitored at 30.3 degrees north latitude and 103.0 degrees east longitude.

Ya'an has an population of 1.53 million. It is about 140 kilometers away from Chengdu City, and known as the hometown of giant panda.

Wang Dongming, secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Sichuan Provincial Committee, has declared first-class emergency response, dispatching firefighting, work safety and public health departments to the disaster-hit areas.

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 More than 2,000 soldiers and two helicopters have departed for the epicenter, according to the Chengdu Military Area Command.

The quake was strongly felt by residents in Chengdu. It was also felt in neighboring provinces.

Multiple aftershocks jolted the area within hours after the 7.0-magnitude quake took place, with the strongest one being 5.1-magnitude at 8:07 am.

No casualties of people and panda have been reported so far by Bifengxia Giant Panda Base, but a road in
the base that pandas will pass through has collapsed, said Yu Xiaoying, a staff of Wolong National Natural Reserve.

Bifengxia Giant Panda Base is one of the three giant bases of Wolong. It is about 50 kilometers away from the epicenter.

The Chengdu Shuangliu Airport has resumed operation after a brief suspension. A total of 82 trains have been halted services.

(C) chinadaily.com.cn

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