At least 14 killed in Central Asia earthquake

Almost all the casualties were in Uzbekistan, where officials confirmed 13 deaths.

Almaty: A powerful earthquake killed at least 14 people in a heavily populated valley in Central Asia early Wednesday, emergency officials said.

Almost all the casualties were in Uzbekistan, where officials confirmed 13 deaths.

The magnitude-6.1 temblor centred in Kyrgyzstan hit shortly after midnight in a mountainous area some 20 miles (35 kilometres) away from the eastern Uzbek city of Ferghana, which has a population of more than 200,000. So far, no deaths have been reported in Kyrgyzstan itself.

Uzbekistan`s Emergency Services Ministry said in a statement that of the 86 people being treated for injuries, 35 have been hospitalised.

Officials said a number of residential buildings in several towns in Ferghana Province have been damaged, but they did not specify the extent of the earthquake`s impact.

Uzbek President Islam Karimov ordered emergency workers to provide assistance to victims, a government statement said.

"Local authorities are carrying out the work needed to assist the population affected by the earthquake and have taken on the burden of the costs of organizing and carrying out the burial of victims," the Emergency Services Ministry said.

A statement on the Foreign Ministry website said the country`s leadership had expressed its condolences to the families of those killed in the earthquake.

In Tajikistan, the third country that shares the Ferghana Valley, Emergency Situations Committee head Ismoil Ismailov said that one man fell to his death from the second floor of a house under construction in which he was spending the night.

Ismailov said four other people suffered injuries, including broken arms and legs.

Quakes are a relatively frequent occurrence in this region of former Soviet Central Asia. A 6.6-magnitude quake near Kyrgyzstan`s borders with Tajikistan and China flattened the remote mountain village of Nura in July 2008, killing at least 74 people.

At a depth of 11 miles (18 kilometres), Wednesday`s quake was shallower than the one in 2008, which could have exacerbated the impact.

But Kanat Abdrakhmatov, head of the National Academy of Science`s seismology institute, said the epicentre was in a sparsely inhabited area of Kyrgyzstan and that only a few buildings appear to have been damaged.

Bureau Report

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