An earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale hit western Xinjiang on February 23. The effects of the quake were most severe in Bachu county, about 150km east of Kashgar in the west of the region. It was reported by Xinhua to have killed 268 people and caused economic losses of Yn1.3bn. More than 10,000 buildings were destroyed and much of the livestock in the area was killed.
Rescue efforts were hampered by frequent aftershocks that struck the area. The government appealed for help in reconstruction after many poor farmers had been left homeless by the earthquake. The regional government has imposed controls on prices of food, fuel and construction materials and has promised to punish anyone trying to use the disaster to make 'undue profits'.