Strong quake hits dry farming region of western China; at least 56 killed, 400 injured

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BEIJING (AP) - The toll of dead and injured continues to rise after an earthquake struck a dry, hilly farming area in western China early this morning.

The local government in Gansu province says at least 75 people have been killed, another 14 are missing and more than 400 have been injured. The official Xinhua (shihn-wah) News Agency quotes a provincial official as saying more than 1,200 homes have destroyed, with another 21,000 badly damaged.

China's earthquake monitoring center says the initial quake was magnitude-6.6 and subsequent tremors included a magnitude-5.6. The quake was centered more than 750 miles west of Beijing. While Gansu is one of China's more lightly populated provinces, the quake region has a greater concentration of farms.

Mud and rocks slides are blocking the main road into the region, slowing rescue efforts. The Chinese Red Cross says it's shipping 200 tents, 2,000 jackets and other relief supplies to the area. Heavy rain is expected in the area later in the week, raising the need for shelter and increasing the chance of further landslides.

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