7 Sep 2012

Dozens killed in China quakes

9:20 pm on 7 September 2012

Two moderate earthquakes hit southwestern China on Friday, killing at least 43 people and forcing tens of thousands of people from damaged homes, state media reported.

The 5.6-magnitude shallow quakes struck near the border of Yunnan and Guizhou provinces - the first at 11.19am local time and the second about 45 minutes later, the US Geological Survey said.

About 150 people have been injured and 20,000 homes damaged, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Most of the victims were from Yiliang county in Yunnan province near the epicentre of the quakes, which struck at a depth of 9km. One person is reported to have been killed in nearby Zhaotong city.

By mid-afternoon, authorities had moved more than 100,000 from the area as a series of aftershocks occurred. No deaths have been recorded in Guizhou province, Reuters reports.

Buildings in China's less developed regions are often thrown up with little regard for construction standards, making them susceptible to earthquakes.

In 2008, about 87,600 people were killed in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit.