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A major earthquake struck western China early Friday, but there were no reports of casualties.
The 7.2 magnitude quake hit at 6:33am (2233 GMT Thursday), about 140 miles (225 kilometers) southeast of the city of Hotan in southwest Xinjiang province, the US Geological Survey reported.
China’s Earthquake Administration confirmed the earthquake, but said it had a 7.3 magnitude.
There were no reports of anyone hurt so far, a spokesman for the agency said, and the area is sparsely populated. The spokesman, reached at agency offices, declined to give his name.
There were four aftershocks in the region, ranging from 5.0 to 5.2 magnitude, according to a notice on the Earthquake Administration’s Web site.
The earthquakes occurred around Ahqan town and Bostan town, just north of the Kunlun mountains, with a total population of around 13,400 people, according to Chinese state media.
China’s state-run television channel CCTV said that some houses had collapsed, but no one was hurt.
Xinjiang is a predominantly Muslim region with a culture that is distinctly different from that of China’s ethnic Han majority.
Dale Grant, a USGS geophysicist, described the area as “very seismically active,” and said Friday’s temblor was the biggest there on record.
The Earthquake Administration said the last earthquake in the Hotan region took place in 1992 and had a 5.9 magnitude.
A quake that hit western Xinjiang in 2003 had a 6.8 magnitude and killed 268 people in Bachu county.
China’s deadliest earthquake in modern history struck the northeastern city of Tangshan on July 28, 1976, killing some 240,000 people. Its magnitude was measured at 7.8 to 8.2. (AP)
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