30 schools suspend class in quake-hit SW China

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ERYUAN, Yunnan, March 4 (Xinhua) -- About 30 primary and middle schools in a quake-hit southwest China county have been ordered to suspend classes for a week, local education authorities said.

A 5.5-magnitude earthquake with a depth of 9 km hit Eryuan County, Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province at 1:41 p.m. Sunday.

The quake affected 160,000 people in Eryuan and four neighboring counties, with 30 injured and 21,000 forced to relocate, according to the quake relief headquarters. It also destroyed 2,108 rooms and damaged another 83,434.

At the quake's epicenter in Eryuan, 1,152 rooms in 72 schools sustained damage, said Li Chang, head of the education bureau of Eryuan County, adding that no students or teachers were injured.

Classes will be suspended for about a week in about 30 of the schools that sustained the most damage, Li said.

Local authorities will build prefabricated classrooms and canteens to ensure that affected students can resume class within a week, the official said.

The provincial civil affairs department has sent 3,020 tents, 7,000 cotton quilts and 7,000 coats to areas affected by the quake.

Meanwhile, more than 1,500 soldiers and militia and two medical teams have been dispatched to the area to assist in relief efforts.

To date, 19 earthquakes of magnitude 5 or above have occurred within a 50-km radius of the epicenter.

Editor: Zhu Ningzhu