Kyrgyzstan quake kills 72 people

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Moscow, Oct 6 (UNI) The death toll from a powerful earthquake in southern Kyrgyzstan has risen to 72, with Kyrgyz health authorities saying the number of casualties can rise.

The earthquake, measuring 6.6 on the Richter Scale, struck near the former Soviet Central Asian Republic's densely populated border area with China, yesterday in the southern province of Osh.

It struck near the Kyrgyzstan's densely populated border area with China yesterday, levelling to the ground about 120 buildings as well as roads and power lines.

''It is premature to speak about an exact number of casualties and the character of the injuries,'' RIA Novosti news agency quoted Kyrgyz Health Ministry official Dinara Sagynbayeva as saying, stressing that the number of casualties may rise.

The bodies of 25 people were pulled out from the rubble in the Alaisky district, Mr Sagynbayeva said.

Local officials, meanwhile, said the earthquake also destroyed the high-altitude village of Nura on Kyrgyzstan's border with China, which was at the epicentre of the earthquake. The village had a population of around 1,000 people.

A rescue operation was underway and people were being evacuated from the worst-hit areas with the help of helicopters. The search for survivors was underway as well.

The Seismologists have warned that new aftershocks could be felt in the quake-stricken region this week.

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has, however, cancelled all the scheduled meetings and is expected to visit the affected areas, his spokesperson said.

Mr Bakiyev has asked the government to provide aid to the quake victims and deal with the consequences of the earthquake, he added.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sent his condolences to his Kyrgyz counterpart and has ordered Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry to provide aid to Kyrgyzstan. An aircraft carrying humanitarian aid to Kyrgyzstan will arrive tomorrow.

UNI XC AE AE PM1819

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