6.1 magnitude earthquake hits China's Xinjiang

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Beijing|,July 3: At least three people were died and more than 20 injured after 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck China's far western region of Xinjiang on Friday, the US Geological Survey said.

According to officials, many houses of ethnic Uighur region collapsed when the shallow quake struck about 160 km (100 miles) northwest of the southern city of Hotan in the early morning. 

"Currently, the earthquake has resulted in three deaths, including a father and son, and more than 20 injuries," China National Emergency Broadcasting (CNEB) said.

The quake was initially reported at various magnitudes up to 6.5. Several aftershocks were reported, the strongest measuring magnitude 4.8, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Residents of the region expressed shock at the intensity of the quake on social media, although authorities said they were optimistic the death toll would not be high.

Previously, earthquake in the southwestern province of Sichuan in 2008 killed almost 70,000 people.

Xinjiang, strategically located on the borders of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia, is one of China's most politically sensitive regions following years of violence, blamed by the government on Islamist militants.

Exiled Uighur groups and human rights activists say the government's own repressive policies and religious and cultural restrictions have provoked unrest, an accusation the government denies.

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