- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 6, 2008

BEIJING | A strong aftershock struck the western Chinese region where a May earthquake killed almost 70,000 people, shaking buildings a few hours after the Olympic torch relay passed through the area on Tuesday. One person was killed and 23 injured.

Elsewhere, Chinese police beat up two Japanese journalists in western China, drawing an official apology on Tuesday. But Beijing also set new obstacles for news outlets wanting to report from Tiananmen Square in the latest sign of trouble for reporters covering the Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee, which last week only partially succeeded in getting China to unblock some Internet sites after journalists protested, said it would look into the new rules that require reporters to make appointments to do reports at Tiananmen Square, the site of a 1989 massacre by Chinese troops of demonstrators for democracy.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), meanwhile, measured the quake in Sichuan province at magnitude 6.0. It struck shortly before 6 p.m. local time and the USGS said the epicenter was 30 miles northwest of Guangyuan town in Sichuan province at a depth of 6 miles.

Panicked residents fled into the streets as the quake rattled Qingchuan county in northeast Sichuan and jolted buildings in neighboring Shaanxi province’s Hanzhong and Xi’an cities and the sprawling municipality of Chongqing, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The casualties were reported in Yaodu, a township in Qingchuan, Xinhua said.

The earthquake occurred a few hours after the Olympic torch relay passed through Sichuan’s capital of Chengdu - its last stop before the flame officially opens the Beijing Games on Friday. There were no reports of the quake being felt in Chengdu.

The temblor was the latest of scores of aftershocks from the 7.9 quake that struck Sichuan on May 12, killing almost 70,000 people and leaving 5 million homeless.

On Friday, an aftershock with the same magnitude as Tuesday’s hit Pingwu and Beichuan in Sichuan, injuring 231 people.



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