BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan – A powerful earthquake struck the mountains of Central Asia, destroying a village in Kyrgyzstan and killing at least 72 people, emergency officials said Monday.
The 6.6-magnitude quake near the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan hit the remote village of Nura hard, bringing down dozens of buildings and injuring more than 100 people in addition to the confirmed deaths, Emergency Situations Minister Kamchybek Tashiyev said.
"What we've seen is terrible, the village of Nura is completely destroyed — 100 percent," Tashiyev said. "There are many injured and we've counted 60 dead so far, all of them local residents."
A few hours later, Health Ministry spokeswoman Yelena Bayalinova said that the death toll was 72.
There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties elsewhere.
Tashiyev said a helicopter was ferrying the most seriously injured to hospitals in the nearest sizable city, the southern regional center of Osh, more than 60 miles away, and would return to collect more of the injured.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered Russian Emergency Situations Ministry to help Kyrgyzstan respond to the quake.
The late Sunday quake's magnitude was 6.6 and the epicenter was in Kyrgyzstan, the U.S. Geological Survey said. It said a 5.1 magnitude quake followed a few hours later on Monday.
The Kyrgyz Emergency Situations Ministry said the epicenter was in Tajikistan.
Earthquakes are common in the mountains of former Soviet Central Asia, adding to the troubles for residents of the impoverished area.