Page last updated at 15:34 GMT, Saturday, 26 November 2005

Earthquake strikes central China

Beds outside Ruichang hospital
Ruichang hospital beds were moved outside for fear of aftershocks

An earthquake has killed at least 14 people and destroyed thousands of homes in central China.

The tremor had a magnitude of 5.7 and its epicentre was near the city of Ruichang in Jiangxi province.

Hundreds of people are reported to have been injured in the quake, which also hit the neighbouring province of Hubei.

In the Ruichang area a total of 420,000 people left their homes, fearing aftershocks, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

"Basically, everyone in Ruichang is huddling in the street," a civil affairs official told AFP news agency.

Doctors treated people outside hospitals in case of new tremors, Xinhua reported.

The earthquake had struck around 0900 local time on Saturday (0100 GMT), and several aftershocks have been reported since then.

"We'd just finished our breakfast, when we heard a huge roar, like someone setting off really loud firecrackers," the official told AFP.

Most of the damage occurred both in Ruichang and in the nearby resort town of Jiujiang.

Resident of a devastated village in Jiujiang
Thousands of houses are said to have been destroyed

A total of about 8,000 houses are reported to have been destroyed.

Chinese Television showed collapsed brick buildings and deep cracks in those that are still standing.

In Beijing, the civil affairs ministry said it was sending emergency relief supplies to the affected region. A specialist earthquake task force has left the capital.

The US Geological Survey said the quake occurred about 10 km (six miles) below the surface of the earth.

Shockwaves were reported to have been felt in the cities of Wuhan and Changsha, respectively 100km (63 miles) and 300km (190 miles) away.

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How earthquakes happen
01 Jun 09 |  Science & Environment
Deadly history of earthquakes
08 Oct 05 |  Special Reports
Quake flattens Chinese homes
12 Aug 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Earthquake hits north-west China
01 Dec 03 |  Asia-Pacific


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