At least one dead in quake near China's Shangri-La

BEIJING (AFP) - An earthquake struck a remote part of southwest China on Saturday near the popular tourist area of Shangri-La, killing at least one person, state media said.

The 5.8 magnitude quake, which struck at 0004 GMT (8:04 am, Singapore time), was centred on Benzilan town in Yunnan province on the border with Sichuan province, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

It struck at a shallow depth of about 10 km.

The official Xinhua news agency said one person was killed and three seriously injured after their tourist bus was hit by falling rocks from a landslide.

"During the earthquake this morning, the swaying the county felt was relatively severe," Xinhua quoted Liao Wencai, deputy party secretary of Deqin county, as saying.

Benzilan is in Deqin county, roughly 60 km from Shangri-La county which is named after the fictional mountain paradise in the James Hilton novel "Lost Horizon".

Local officials borrowed the name to attract more tourists to the area.

Chinese state television quoted an official of Sichuan's Derong county, which was also affected, as saying roads and communications were cut in some areas but casualties were not yet known.

Rescue teams were heading to the affected areas.

In July, twin quakes killed at least 95 people in China's western Gansu province.

A magnitude 6.6 earthquake in Sichuan province killed about 200 people earlier this year, five years after almost 90,000 people were killed by a huge tremor in the same province.

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