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A strong, shallow earthquake has shaken south-west China, killing at least three people and injuring more than two dozen, while a separate 7.3-magnitude quake in the nation’s centre has brought down a bridge and caused other damage.

Key points:

  • The three deaths were all caused by the 6.4-magnitude earthquake
  • Despite occurring within hours of each other, authorities say the two earthquakes were not related
  • Relief efforts were underway as aftershocks continued into Saturday

The second earthquake hit the southern part of Qinghai province, about 1,000 kilometres north of the first quake in Yunnan province.

US Geological Survey geophysicist Jonathan Tytell said the two quakes were not related.

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The Qinghai tremor on Saturday was followed by 453 aftershocks throughout the early morning into midday, according to the official People’s Daily newspaper. At least eight people were injured.

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While no deaths have been reported so far in Qinghai province, the tremors tore up roads and bridges, with one collapsing completely and breaking into segments.

A resident is forced to spend the night outdoors with his cat in the city of Dali following an earthquake  in Yunnan province.

The Yunnan province seismological bureau gave the magnitude of the Friday night quake as 6.4 and said it struck eight kilometres below the surface north-west of the city of Dali.

Shallow quakes often cause more damage, especially in populated areas.

The earthquake caused strong shaking around Dali, but Chinese news reports showed relatively little damage.

Three people died and 28 were injured, the Yunan province’s publicity department said on Saturday.

Relief efforts were underway, with the provincial authorities sending emergency rations and tents to the affected areas.

In Qinghai, authorities set up temporary safety shelters due to continuous aftershocks.

Last year, a magnitude-5 earthquake in Yunnan killed four people and injured 23.

China’s worst earthquake in recent years struck the mountainous western portion of Sichuan province to the north of Yunnan in 2008, killing nearly 90,000 people.

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