Earthquake of 6.8 magnitude strikes western China: USGS

BEIJING Wed Feb 12, 2014 5:11am EST

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BEIJING (Reuters) - An earthquake of 6.8 magnitude struck China's far western region of Xinjiang on Wednesday, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said, but in a very remote and sparsely populated area.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage. The USGS had previously put the magnitude at 6.9, but later downgraded it.

China's government put the epicentre in Yutian county in the far south of Xinjiang, which is mostly desert and mountain but also has a small farming belt.

The Xinjiang earthquake administration said on its official microblog that the nearest settlement to the epicentre was some 50 km (30 miles) away and that the Yutian government had yet to receive any reports of damage.

The Xinjiang government said on its microblog that it planned to send a 20-person rescue team to the area, in which it said virtually nobody lived.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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