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Posted On : 8 Aug, 2017  Source : PTI  Place : Beijing 
7.0-magnitude quake hits China's Sichuan Province; 5 killed
A 7-magnitude earthquake tonight jolted a remote but popular tourist destination in China's southwest, killing at least five people and injuring over 60, the state media reported, with officials fearing the death toll could be much higher.

The massive earthquake struck Jiuzhaigou in the epicentre of Zhangzha town, Jiuzhaigou County, said the publicity department of the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture.

Citing a China Earthquake Networks Centre (CENC) statement, the Xinhua news agency reported that the earthquake struck at 9.19 PM (local time) at a depth of 20 kilometres.

At least 107 aftershocks were recorded as of 11 PM (local time), according to the CENC.

State-run television said five people were killed and more than 60 injured in the quake. But officials feared the death toll could be much higher as rescue work peaks tomorrow.

All the dead were tourists, the state media report said.

The condition of 30 injured was stated to be serious.

President Xi Jinping has called for all-out efforts to rapidly organise relief work and rescue the injured people.

The Western Theater Command of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has activated an emergency response.

Thirty three people carrying communication equipment including maritime satellites have been rushed to the region.

Eleven helicopters and more than 40 vehicles were ready for rescue operations, the news agency reported.

A total of 610 fire officers and soldiers, and eight sniffer dogs were dispatched to the scene after the quake.

The China Earthquake Administration has activated level-I emergency response procedures following the earthquake.

China has a four-level earthquake emergency response system, with level-I being the top.

Work teams have been sent to the affected area to carry out emergency operations, the local administration said.

An employee at the Jiuzhaigou National Park said homes had collapsed in one of the valleys, and buildings were being evacuated, according to a report.

The park said it had 38,799 visitors today.

Jiuzhaigou, or Jiuzhai Valley, is a national park known for spectacular waterfalls and karst formations. More than 34,000 people visited the tourist attraction today.

Photos posted on social media showed shattered windows, damaged walls and people standing out on streets.

Sangey, a staff worker with the popular Jiuzhaigou tourist site, told Xinhua over telephone that some houses in the scenic spot collapsed and authorities are organising young people to help evacuate residents.

Li Changyong, head of the Jiuzhaigou county health and family planning bureau, said the quake was strongly felt in the county seat, 35 km from the epicentre, and many residents rushed outside their buildings.

Yu Qian, a local taxation bureau official, said she felt strong tremor in her home on the fifth floor.

Yu said the power was cut off in her neighbourhood and quake disrupted telephone service linking the scenic area where some of her colleagues worked and lived.

The quake was also strongly felt in the provincial capital Chengdu, about 300 km south of the epicentre.

The quake also disrupted railway services. The Sichuan railway bureau suspended 14 trains.