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Strong earthquake jolts sparse area in Xinjiang

(Xinhua)

13:06, March 10, 2012

A 6.0-magnitude earthquake jolted a largely uninhabited area of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region yesterday morning, the China Earthquake Networks Center said.

The epicenter, at a depth of 30 kilometers, was in Lop County in Hotan. The quake struck at 6:50am.

The Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regional Earthquake Bureau did not receive any early reports of casualties from local authorities, a spokesman with the bureau said.

The spokesman said the epicenter lies in the heart of China's largest desert, Taklimakan. No one lives within a radius of 100 square kilometers of the location.

But he said the bureau expected reports of damage from Aksu, Kashgar, Hotan, Bayan Gol and Ili prefectures, where the quake was felt. Local authorities sent staff to go door to door in rural areas to check for damage. The National Disaster Reduction Commission and the Ministry of Civil Affairs sent a work team to the area to assist in any disaster relief, if needed.

Li Qiang, a resident living in Hotan, said his family was awakened by tremors before dawn. But their house was not damaged.

Railway authorities in the regional capital of Urumqi and in Hotan said they halted 15 trains yesterday morning pending safety checks of rail lines. Rail traffic resumed at 10:10am.

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