BEIJING – A strong earthquake struck central China on Saturday, killing at least 15 people, injuring more than 450 and destroying hundreds of buildings, the government said.
The official Xinhua News Agency said the state Seismological Bureau gave a magnitude-5.7 quake hit Saturday morning and was centered in central Jiangxi province's Ruichang city near the border of Hubei province. The U.S. Geological Survey reported the quake had a magnitude of 5.5. There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy.
Most of the damage occurred in Ruichang and in the popular resort town of Jiujiang, it said. At least 14 people were killed and 377 were injured, Xinhua said.
In neighboring Hubei province, one person died and 81 were injured, including 78 students caught in a stampede during evacuation, Xinhua said.
Hundreds of homes collapsed and thousands were damaged, Xinhua said.
"The earthquake this morning was quite scary," said a shopkeeper in Ruichang reached by telephone who would only give her surname, Zhou.
Chinese Central Television news showed rows of crumbled brick buildings and deep cracks in the walls of buildings still standing in Ruichang.
The news showed a young boy with his head heavily bandaged and a man crying on a bench as he cradled an injured leg. An old man and his injured wife shared a cot at a makeshift medical center set up in the street.
Many people in Ruichang, which has a population of about 420,000 people, were staying outside for fear of more aftershocks and 1,000 tents were being sent to the area, Xinhua said.
Temperatures in the region were relatively mild, hovering around 50 degrees, weather reports said.
Tents were set up outside a hospital treating some of the injured. Xinhua said 1,000 tents were being sent to the area.