Earthquake Kills 72 in Kyrgyztsan

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- A powerful earthquake struck the mountains of Central Asia, destroying a village in Kyrgyzstan and killing at least 72 people, Kyrgyz officials said Monday.

The magnitude 6.6 quake near the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan hit the remote village of Nura hard late Sunday, bringing down dozens of buildings and injuring more than 100 people, Emergency Situations Minister Kamchybek Tashiyev said.

"What we've seen is terrible, the village of Nura is completely destroyed -- 100 percent," Tashiyev said.

A few hours later, Health Ministry spokeswoman Yelena Bayalinova said that the death toll was 72.

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties elsewhere.

Tashiyev said a helicopter was ferrying the most seriously injured to hospitals in Osh, the nearest sizable city, more than 100 kilometers away, and would rush back for more injured after dropping them off.

President Dmitry Medvedev, due to visit Kyrgyzstan later this week, ordered the Emergency Situations Ministry to help Kyrgyzstan respond to the quake.

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev will visit Nura on Tuesday, his administration said.

In 1966, the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, was flattened by a magnitude 7.5 quake that left hundreds of thousands of people homeless. A magnitude 6 quake rocked Tashkent in August, but there was no damage. (AP, Reuters)