Shallow 5.9 magnitude earthquake hits China's Yunnan: USGS

BEIJING (AFP) - A shallow earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 hit southwest China close to the border with Myanmar on Friday morning, the US Geological Survey said.

The epicentre was 27 kilometres north of Pingyuan in Yunnan province, and 65 kilometres southeast of Myitkyina, capital of Kachin state in northern Myanmar, USGS said, adding the quake was 10 kilometres deep.

Shallow earthquakes can often cause greater damage than more powerful deep ones. USGS graded it as a seven on its "Shakemap" scale, saying that shaking would have been "very strong" and expecting "moderate" damage.

Southwest China is prone to earthquakes. In May 2008, an 8.0-magnitude quake rocked the neighbouring province of Sichuan, killing tens of thousands and flattening swathes of the province. In September 2012, 80 people were killed when twin earthquakes struck the mountainous border area of Yunnan and Guizhou.

The two 5.6-magnitude quakes also left some 820 people injured and 201,000 displaced. A month later 18 children were killed when their school was buried under a landslide triggered by sustained rains in the earthquake-hit area.

A 5.6-magnitude, 24 kilometre-deep earthquake hit the border between Myanmar and China a week ago, geologists said.