N. China quake kills three, injures more than 1,000

BEIJING, Aug. 17 (Xinhuanet) -- The death toll from Saturday's earthquake in north China's Inner Mongolia rose to three on Sunday,with about 1,000 injured, civil officials said.

Officials with the Ministry of Civil Affairs said the quake caused 1.38 billion yuan (168 million US dollars) in direct economic losses.

More than 600,000 people were affected, 7,912 houses collapsed and 83,100 more were damaged, said the officials.

The quake, measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale, jolted Chifeng City in eastern Inner Mongolia at 6:58 p.m. (Beijing Time) Saturday.

Bairin Left Banner and Ar Horqin Banner, of Chifeng City, were hit most seriously, and neighboring Bairin Right Banner and Ongniud Banner also reported human casualties and material damage.

In Gangtai Township in Ar Horqin Banner, a Xinhua reporter joining local officials investigating the disaster situation was told that 103 of the 120 rooms of Gangtai Middle School were damaged seriously.

About 80 senior citizens were seen gathering in the open air as their nursing homes were near collapse.

A task force dispatched by the Ministry of Civil Affairs arrived Sunday afternoon in Bairin Left Banner to lend a hand to the quake victims and coordinate rescue operation.

Relief materials and medical teams have been allocated or dispatched to help the victims.

The epicenter was located by China Seismological Bureau at latitude 43.9 degrees north and longitude 119.7 degrees east.

Mild tremors were also felt in the Chinese capital of Beijing. Enditem