Earthquake Kills Hundreds in Western China

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Desperate efforts are underway to save victims trapped by Wednesday's powerful 6.9 earthquake in China.

The death toll has reached 400 and is expected to rise. More than 10,000 people have been injured and many of the survivors are out on the streets with nowhere to go.

The earthquake struck just north of Yushu county in China's Qinghai Province.

Cell phone images captured the scene of local authorities frantically digging through the rubble with their bare hands to find survivors, among them children at a collapsed school building.

In one town, close to the epicenter, more than 85 percent of the buildings have been destroyed, hundreds are still trapped in the rubble.

Chinese state media interviewed a local aid worker, Pu Wu.

"The situation here is difficult," he said. "Most of the buildings have collapsed. A lot of people are seriously injured."

China's president has ordered an all-out effort to save lives-- deploying thousands of troops and millions of dollars to aid in the search and rescue.

But getting to the affected areas is going to be challenging.

Wednesday's quake hit a mountainous region close to the Tibetan border. Roads in and out of the area have been severely damaged. One official said it could take about 24 hours to get urgent medical supplies and rescue equipment.

At least 18 aftershocks have been recorded, with stronger quakes expected in the coming days.

Thousands of miles away at the Vatican, Pope Benedict remembered China's quake victims.

"I pray for the victims and and I am spiritually near those being tried by such a grave calamity," he said.

Seismologist say there's no link between today's earthquake and the one that hit Sichuan Province last year killing more than 90-thousand people.

Several countries, including Haiti, Chile and Indonesia, have experienced strong earthquakes this year. However, according to officials at the U.S. Geological Survey, they aren't related

In an average year, seismologists record several million earthquakes around the world. Experts say that the majority of them are small or hit remote areas.

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