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HONG KONG: A strong earthquake struck the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan on Saturday, killing at least 12 people and injuring more than 100, local authorities said.

The quake struck just after 8 a.m. local time about 115 kilometers (70 miles) away from the provincial capital, Chengdu, at a depth of around 12 kilometers, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. There was conflicting information about the earthquake's strength, with the USGS putting the magnitude at 6.6 and the China Earthquake Networks Center gauging it at 7.0.

It was followed by at least eight aftershocks of magnitudes between 4.5 and 5.1, the USGS said.

Photos circulating on social media suggested the quake may have caused considerable damage to buildings.

Authorities have responded by sending rescue workers to the area around the epicenter, shutting down the airport in Chengdu and suspending high-speed rail operations, state media reported.

The event stirred memories of the devastating earthquake that hit Sichuan in 2008, killing more than 87,000 people.

The epicenter of Saturday's quake was in Lushan country, a district of the city of Yaan. That city is home to China's famous giant pandas and houses the country's biggest panda research center.

CCTV reported that the panda facility is about 40 kilometers away from the epicenter.




- Jethro Mullen and Steven Jiang / CNN
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/04/19/world/asia/china-sichuan-earthquake/