Big quake and aftershocks hit China's Xinjiang

21/03/2008 - 2:06

BEIJING (Reuters) - A major earthquake and two aftershocks hit China's north-western region of Xinjiang on Friday morning, the China Earthquake Administration said, but there were no initial reports of casualties or damage.

China Earthquake Administration said the initial quake, of7.3 magnitude, happened at 10:33 p.m. British time on Thursday,or 6:33 am local time. The epicentre was located near YutianCounty, or about 230 km (140 miles) southeast of the city ofHotan.

The U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake at 7.2magnitude, at a depth of 22.9 km (14.2 miles).

China said the initial quake was followed by a magnitude5.1 aftershock at 10:38 p.m. British time and one of magnitude5.2 about 30 minutes later, both roughly in the same location.The USGS put the aftershocks at 5.3 and 5.5 magnitude.

China measures earthquakes using the Richter scale.

Initial Chinese news reports carried no details aboutcasualties or damage.

Xinjiang is a relatively sparsely populated, predominatelyMuslim, region. Yutian County has a population of 2.3 million,most of them Uighur farmers.

China is hit by several earthquakes a year, most hittingsparsely populated rural areas and causing no casualties

(Reporting by Jason Subler; Editing by Ken Wills and DavidFox)

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