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Scores die in rural China quake

| Saturday, April 20, 2013, 9:30 p.m.

YA'AN, China — Residents huddled outdoors on Saturday night in a town near the epicenter of a powerful earthquake that struck the steep hills of China's southwestern Sichuan province, leaving at least 160 people dead and more than 6,700 injured.

The magnitude-6.6 tremor sent people fleeing from buildings on Saturday morning, triggered landslides and disrupted phone and power connections in mountainous Lushan county only five years after a devastating quake wreaked widespread damage to the same region.

The quake struck about 8 a.m., when many people were at home, sleeping or having breakfast. People in their underwear and wrapped in blankets ran into the streets of Ya'an and even the provincial capital of Chengdu, 70 miles east of Lushan, according to videos and accounts posted online.

State broadcaster China Central Television showed images of bloodied people being treated in tents.

One injured man told the channel: “We still live in our old house, the new one is not ready yet. Our house just collapsed. Everything collapsed.”

Rescuers turned the square outside the Lushan County Hospital into a triage center, where medical personnel bandaged bleeding victims, according to CCTV.

Villages close to the epicenter were left in ruins. The quake's shallow depth, less than 8 miles, likely magnified the impact.

The village of Longmen was hit particularly hard, with nearly all buildings there destroyed in a frightening minute-long shaking.

Rescuers dynamited boulders that had fallen across roads to reach Longmen and other damaged areas lying farther up the mountain valleys, state media reported.

Tens of thousands of people moved into tents or cars, unable to return home or too afraid to go back as at least 710 aftershocks continued to jolt the region.

In nearby Ya'an, residents sat in groups outside convenience stores watching the news on television sets.

Fourteen-year-old Wang Xing and her relatives said they planned to spend the night in their cars.

“We don't feel safe sleeping at home tonight,” said Wang, a student. She said the quake left tears on the walls of her family's house. “It was very scary when it happened. I ran out of my bed and out of the house. I didn't even have my shoes on.”

Lushan, where the quake struck, sits atop the Longmenshan fault. It was along that fault line that a devastating magnitude-7.9 quake struck on May 12, 2008, leaving more than 90,000 people dead or missing and presumed dead.

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