From: Reuters
Published March 20, 2008 09:07 PM

Big quake, aftershocks hit China's Xinjiang

BEIJING (Reuters) - A major earthquake and two aftershocks hit China's northwestern region of Xinjiang on Friday morning, the China Earthquake Administration said, but there were no initial reports of casualties or damage.

China Earthquake Administration said the initial quake, of 7.3 magnitude, happened at 6:33 p.m. EDT on Thursday, or 6:33 am local time. The epicenter was located near Yutian County, or about 230 km (140 miles) southeast of the city of Hotan.

The U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake at 7.2 magnitude, at a depth of 22.9 km (14.2 miles).

China said the initial quake was followed by a magnitude 5.1 aftershock at 6:38 p.m. EDT and one of magnitude 5.2 about 30 minutes later, both roughly in the same location. The USGS put the aftershocks at 5.3 and 5.5 magnitude.

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China measures earthquakes using the Richter scale.

Initial Chinese news reports carried no details about casualties or damage.

Xinjiang is a relatively sparsely populated, predominately Muslim, region. Yutian County has a population of 2.3 million, most of them Uighur farmers.

China is hit by several earthquakes a year, most hitting sparsely populated rural areas and causing no casualties

(Reporting by Jason Subler; Editing by Ken Wills and David Fox)

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