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China quake kills at least 25

By Steven Jiang, CNN
Rescuers carry an injured survivor after a 5.4-magnitude quake hit the remote Yingjiang county in southwest China on Thursday.
Rescuers carry an injured survivor after a 5.4-magnitude quake hit the remote Yingjiang county in southwest China on Thursday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Death and injury toll increase
  • The 5.4-magnitude earthquake hits near the Myanmar border
  • Scores of people are injured, the civil affairs ministry says
  • Rescuers scramble to reach trapped residents
RELATED TOPICS
  • China

Beijing (CNN) -- The death toll from Thursday's earthquake in southwest China is at least 25, with more than 250 injured, according to the ministry of civil affairs.

The 5.4-magnitude earthquake hit near the border with Myanmar, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

It collapsed houses in the remote Yingjiang county in Yunnan province, according to a county official who would provide only his surname, Ke -- a common practice among officials.

State media said the quake hit the area shortly before 1 p.m. local time, cutting power and toppling buildings including hotels and schools.

The epicenter was 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) away from the center of Yingjiang county, which has a population of more than 270,000 and is home to several of China's ethnic minorities.

China Central Television showed damaged buildings with debris and red lanterns lying around as police officers directed traffic on a chaotic street.

Aftershocks continued to jolt the area as firefighters and other rescuers helped free those trapped, Li Zhiren, the deputy county chief told CCTV.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed condolences on behalf of the Obama administration.

"As people in Yunnan province mourn the loss of life and work to save those that are injured and trapped in the rubble, our thoughts are with the injured, the families of the victims, and with all the people of China," she said.

The area has experienced minor quakes under 5.0 magnitude since the year began, according to the Xinhua news agency. As of Thursday, the local seismological bureau had recorded more than 1,200 such tremors, Xinhua said.

Many jittery residents celebrated the lunar New Year holiday in tents last month.