Chinese soldiers carry out rescue work after Friday's earthquake.

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48 people were injured in the magnitude-6.4 quake, state media report

It struck near the main population center of a remote county

Hong Kong CNN  — 

At least four people have been killed by a strong earthquake that shook the far western Chinese region of Xinjiang on Friday, state media reported.

The magnitude-6.4 quake was centered in Pishan, a county in a remote area of southern Xinjiang, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The temblor injured 48 people, damaged homes and disrupted communications, China’s official news agency Xinhua reported, citing local authorities.

State media carried images showing cracked walls in the building of the county fire department.

The earthquake, which struck at a depth of 20 kilometers (12 miles), was followed by a series of aftershocks, the USGS said.

Pishan county covers a large area – around 39,700 square kilometers, not much smaller than the country of Switzerland.

Stretching into Xinjiang’s vast Taklamakan Desert, the county has a total population of 258,000, according to Xinhua.

The quake’s epicenter was located only about 15 kilometers from the county seat, a farming and population center that sits at the edge of the desert.

How earthquakes are measured

CNN’s Brian Walker contributed to this report.