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Tibetan earthquakes raze houses in Lhasa

October 8, 2008

Two earthquakes have struck the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, killing at least nine people and collapsing hundreds of houses.
By Malcolm Moore in Shanghai
The Telegraph (UK)
October 7, 2008

The epicentre of the first quake, which measured magnitude 6.6, was around 50 miles west of Lhasa. A second, 5.1 magnitude, quake struck shortly afterwards around 60 miles west of the capital.

Chinese state media said that initial reports of 30 dead needed further verification. "Tremors were felt in Lhasa, but no serious damage was found in buildings or historical sites there. Key cultural relics remain intact".

Hundreds of houses were razed in Dangxiong County and telecommunication lines were cut. Roads to the epicentre were also closed by the rubble, and an unknown number of people have been trapped.

Danxiong County has a population of around 42,000, many of whom are shepherds and farmers. Soldiers and rescue workers are working at the scene to clear roads and clear away the rubble.

Potala Palace, the most famous landmark in Lhasa and the former residence of the Dalai Lama, was undamaged, according to Chinese media. The airport at Lhasa remains in operation and the Qinghai-Tibet railway, which connects Tibet to Beijing, was not affected.

An official at the Civil Affairs Bureau said the tremors had lasted for around half-a-minute and that workers had rushed from their buildings in fear.

However, a reporter with Xinhua, the state news agency, said shops in the capital remain open and there had not been widespread panic.

On Sunday, a 5.7 magnitude earthquake struck in Xinjiang, the province due north of Tibet, while nearby Kyrgyzstan suffered a 6.6 magnitude hours later in which at least 70 people were killed. Tibet has been hit by a series of moderate earthquakes in recent weeks.

In late August, a 6.7 magnitude quake was reported in the region and Chinese media said schools, a hydropower station and 622 homes had been damaged, forcing 2,000 people to seek temporary shelter.
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