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20,000 evacuated in NW China quake-hit county
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Around 20,000 residents in an earthquake-hit county in northwest China's Shaanxi Province were evacuated amid fears of possible aftershocks and flooding.

Lueyang County, home to 80,000 people, had evacuated a quarter of its population to nearby cities, such as Ankang and Xi'an, the capital, as of Friday night.

"We encouraged locals to evacuate their ramshackle houses to live with relatives and friends outside the county in fear the aftershocks and possible flooding may cause more casualties here," said Tang Yong, county head of Lueyang.

Ten people were killed in Lueyang in the May 12 earthquake that hit the neighboring southwestern Sichuan Province.

In total, 60 percent of the 1,160 houses in the county were in danger of collapse when almost all others were damaged after the earthquake.

More than 10,000 other people, those who chose to stay, had been accommodated in settlement areas in the county, Tang added.

A dozen aftershocks above 3.0-magnitude have hit the county since the earthquake.

Meanwhile, continual torrential rains have been playing havoc with Shaanxi as the flood season began, leaving the damaged houses in worse shape.

Almost all the 340,000 locals in Ningqiang County, which was hit with a magnitude 5.7 aftershock days before, were urged to live outdoors amid fear of possible aftershocks.

The loss in Shaanxi was estimated at 16 billion yuan (2.3 billion U.S. dollars) where the destructive earthquake and aftershocks had killed 121 and displaced 1.25 million others in the province as of Friday.

(Xinhua News Agency May 31, 2008)

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