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Earthquakes result in US$42 million loss in Xinjiang
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A series of earthquakes that rocked northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region last week cost direct economic losses of almost 300 million yuan (US$42 million), local authorities said on Thursday.

The quakes affected 97,603 people in the counties of Yutian, Qira and Lop in southern Xinjiang's Hotan Prefecture, said an official with the regional Department of Civil Affairs.

More than 30,000 houses were damaged, 2,363 were flattened and 25,000 needed to be rebuild, the official said.

The quakes also toppled 1,251 greenhouses and farming establishments, destroyed 2,311 meters of road and 11,840 meters of water pipelines. Meanwhile, clinics, bridges, penstocks and power supply stations were also damaged, the official said.

More than 10 million yuan had been allocated by the regional government since the first quake and 86,000 people had joined the rescue operation. The stricken area had received more than 2,000 tents, 50 tons of coal and about 200 tons of food. Quilts, coats and shoes had also arrived.

The first and strongest tremor measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale hit Yutian at 6:33 AMon Friday, and was followed by more than a dozen after-shocks measuring more than 3.8 on the Richter scale. A number of other minor quakes were also registered, according to the Xinjiang seismological bureau.

In 2004, the Hotan government launched a project to build earthquake-resistant houses in the quake-prone Kunlun Mountain region. More than 1.2 million people in 257,000 households had moved to new buildings by September last year.

(Xinhua News Agency, March 28, 2008)

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