Strong earthquake hits southwestern China; injuries reported

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(Image downloaded from Google Maps)

(Image downloaded from Google Maps)

BEIJING (AP) — A strong earthquake hit Sichuan province in southern China late Monday night and some people were injured, officials and news reports said.

The U.S. Geological Survey warned there could be significant damage. It said the earthquake measured magnitude 5.9 and hit about 19 kilometers (12 miles) from the city of Changning. The nearest major city, Chongqing, is 200 kilometers (120 miles) to the northeast.

The quake was centered at a fairly shallow depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles), the USGS said. Shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage to buildings and infrastructure.

An aftershock measuring magnitude 5.2 later hit the same area, the USGS said.

The Beijing Youth Daily said some people had been injured, but that could not be immediately confirmed. The emergency management ministry said teams of firefighters have been sent to the area to search for any casualties.

The official Xinhua news agency said a few houses were damaged in Chongqing but no injuries were reported there, according to the Municipal Emergency Management Bureau.

China's worst earthquake in recent years struck the mountainous western portion of Sichuan province in 2008, killing nearly 90,000 people. That earthquake was about 400 kilometers (250 miles) from Monday's quake.

A 1976 earthquake centered in the northeastern city of Tangshan killed at least 250,000 people.