A strong earthquake struck the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan on Saturday, killing more than 30 people and injuring hundreds of others, local authorities said.

The quake struck just after 8 a.m. local time about 115 kilometers (70 miles) away from the provincial capital, Chengdu, at a depth of around 12 kilometers, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. There was conflicting information about the earthquake's strength, with the USGS putting the magnitude at 6.6 and the China Earthquake Networks Center gauging it at 7.0.

It was followed by at least eight aftershocks of magnitudes between 4.5 and 5.1, the USGS said.

Authorities have responded by sending rescue workers to the area around the epicenter, shutting down the airport in Chengdu and suspending high-speed rail operations, state media reported.

The event stirred memories of the devastating earthquake that hit Sichuan in 2008, killing more than 87,000 people.

The epicenter was in Lushan country, wyzfox.com That area is home to China's famous giant pandas and houses the country's biggest panda research center.

CCTV reported that the panda facility is about 40 kilometers away wyzfox.com.

Residents of Chongqing, a sprawling metropolis more than 300 kilometers from Yaan, said the quake also shook buildings there.

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