50,000 evacuated after quakes rattle China
More than 50,000 people have been evacuated from their homes after a series of weekend quakes damaged houses in the central Chinese province of Hubei, state media reported on Monday.
An earthquake measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale rattled the area around Suizhou city on Friday and another measuring 4.2 hit on Saturday, the Beijing Morning Post said.
At least 46 smaller tremors and aftershocks also were detected over the weekend, it said.
Only one house in the area was destroyed but 4,318 were damaged. Most of those evacuated were residents of those homes who were moved to temporary shelters nearby as a precaution, it said.
The area is about 200 kilometers northeast of the massive Three Gorges Dam.
An earlier state media report on the Friday quake said buildings and homes near the dam were rattled but a subsequent inspection of the construction revealed no damage.
A series of smaller quakes have been felt in the region over the past two weeks, according to the Beijing News.
The dam, just completed this year, is the world's biggest hydroelectric project and is aimed at controlling floods in the middle reaches of the Yangtze river, China's longest, as well as providing electricity.
Nearly 1.3 million residents have been moved out of the historic and scenic Three Gorges to make way for the project, which is expected to have a lasting environmental impact on the region and river, opponents of the project have said.
Concern about earthquakes in the region was also a key argument against the dam, which will reach its full electrical output capacity in 2009.