Wed, 22 Oct 2008 09:01 CDT
The 6.6-magnitude quake near the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan hit the remote village of Nura hard, bringing down dozens of buildings and injuring more than 100 people in addition to the confirmed deaths, Emergency Situations Minister Kamchybek Tashiyev said.
Later Monday, Health Ministry spokeswoman Yelena Bayalinova said the death toll was 72.
Tashiyev said a helicopter was ferrying the most seriously injured to hospitals in the nearest sizable city, the southern regional center of Osh, more than 60 miles away. The emergency minister said the helicopters would return to collect more of the injured.
The 6.6-magnitude temblor was centered in Kyrgyzstan and was followed by a 5.1-magnitude quake, the U.S. Geological Survey said. But the Kyrgyz Emergency Situations Ministry said the first quake was centered in Tajikistan.
Rogozhin said Sunday's initial 6.6 shock was followed by a series of aftershocks, but could not say whether it was linked to a pair of earthquakes that jolted the capital of Chinese-ruled Tibet and surrounding areas Monday, killing 30 people and causing hundreds of houses to collapse.
"You can have earthquakes triggering other earthquakes but they usually have to be quite close for that to happen," within a few hundred miles, Baptie said.
Earthquakes are common in the mountains of former Soviet Central Asia, adding to the troubles for residents of the impoverished area.
Associated Press Writer Louise Watt in London contributed to this story.