China clears roads to earthquake epicenter, death toll rises to 72

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BEIJING — China has reopened roads leading to the epicenter of Monday’s magnitude-6.8 earthquake in southwestern Sichuan province and traffic has resumed, state media reported on Wednesday, while the death toll has risen to 72.

The strongest earthquake to hit the province since 2017 destroyed numerous buildings and caused severe damage to power and water infrastructure as well as telecommunications.

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Rescuers had rushed to reach stranded people, restore utilities and send emergency relief, while 11,000 people were evacuated on Tuesday from Luding county, where the quake was centered.

Early on Wednesday, China Earthquake Networks Centre recorded a magnitude-3 quake at the epicenter, at a depth of 12 km (7.5 miles).

Weather forecasters have also warned of the prospect of heavy rains in the region until Friday. (Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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