Filed at 8:27 a.m. ET
BEIJING (Reuters) - An earthquake hit China's northern region
of Inner Mongolia, toppling more than 7,900 homes, killing
three people and injuring 1,000, officials said on Sunday.
The quake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale hit at 6:58 p.m.
(1058 GMT) on Saturday near the towns of Bairin Zuoqi and Ar
Horqin Qi in eastern Inner Mongolia and could be felt as far
away as the capital Beijing, about 500 km (300 miles) to the
Official news agency Xinhua called the earthquake the worst in
the region in 700 years and quoted a Ministry of Civil Affairs
official as saying more than 1,000 people were injured -- 54
seriously -- in five counties, and more than 600,000 affected.
were having dinner at the time when the quake hit and it was
fairly strong. At the start it sounded like an avalanche.
Everybody ran out to the street," a police official in Bairin
Zuoqi told Reuters.
one dared sleep at home last (Saturday) night and we all
stayed outside. We can see people just sleeping on the
Television showed homes, many of them built of mud bricks,
turned to piles of rubble. Others had roofs caved in, leaving
only walls standing.
Paramilitary police were setting up tents to house thousands
left homeless or too afraid to return to their homes.
are expecting more aftershocks but they would not be strong,"
a local seismological official said, adding the latest at 1.30
p.m. (0530 GMT) measured 4.7 on the Richter scale.
A municipal official in the city of Chifeng nearby said about
1,000 people had been injured in outlying villages.
Xinhua quoted a local seismological official as saying 83,000
homes were damaged and 7,912 collapsed in the area, calling
the earthquake the worst to hit the region in 700 years.
It put economic losses at 1.38 billion yuan ($167 million).
A quake relief official in Bairin Zuoqi said by telephone the
region was short of shelter and aid.
is raining here and we don't have enough tents. We tried to
put as many people as possible in the temporary shelters," he
said, adding that tarpaulin was also being used for shelters.
In July, an earthquake of 6.2 on the Richter scale killed 15
and injured nearly 300 in the southwestern province of Yunnan.