BEIJING - Two earthquakes jolted the capital of Tibet and surrounding areas, killing at least nine people and collapsing hundreds of houses, China's state news agency said early today. Rescuers rushed in to try to save people buried in the rubble.
The U.S. Geological Survey said Monday's first quake measured magnitude 6.6 and struck 50 miles west of Lhasa, more than 1,600 miles from Beijing.
The second quake measuring magnitude 5.1 hit about 15 minutes later 60 miles west of the Tibetan capital.
Hundreds of houses collapsed in Gedar township near the epicenter in Dangxiong County, and traffic and telecommunications were cut.
An unknown number of people were trapped.
Deaths also were reported in a neighboring county, Xinhua said, but no figures were available. The Lhasa airport and the Qinghai-Tibet railway -- which stretches from western Qinghai Province to Tibet -- continued to operate, the agency said.
China says Tibet has been part of its territory for centuries, although many Tibetans say their homeland was essentially independent for most of that time.
On Sunday, an earthquake rocked Kyrgyzstan, leveling a mountain village and killing up to 70 people, officials said late Monday.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake measured 6.6 and struck in the Osh region in the south of the former Soviet Central Asian republic.
It flattened Nura, a town of some 960 residents and 400 houses near the Chinese border.
"The picture we saw was frightening. The village of Nura is fully destroyed, 100 percent," said Emergency Situations Minister Kamchybek Tashiyev.
Rescuers were racing to the isolated village. Casualties were being transported by helicopter to the city of Osh, 140 miles away.
Kyrgyzstan is a destitute, landlocked mountainous nation of around 5 million people that borders China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Central Asia is a highly active seismic region and has been shaken by numerous significant earthquakes in recent years.