China's Sichuan hit by earthquake, killing at least 156, many more feared dead

BEIJING (AP) - The death toll is rising in China's Sichuan province after a powerful earthquake.

The China Earthquake Administration says at least 156 people have been killed and more than 5,500 injured. It puts the magnitude at 7.0, while the U.S. Geological Survey puts it at the 6.6.

It struck the steep hills of Lushan county shortly after 8 a.m. toppling buildings, many of them older brick structures. Photos posted online showed people ran into the streets in their underwear and wrapped in blankets.

Lushan is home to 1.5 million people. Known for its mountains, the area is near a well-known preserve for pandas.

A man who answered the phone at the Ya'an (yah- AN') city government said telecommunications were cut and that medical and rescue teams are on the way.  The area lies near the same geological fault where the devastating 7.9-magnitude quake struck in May 2008, leaving more than 90,000 people dead or missing and presumed dead.

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