Further damage was caused, and some damaged homes collapsed.
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The Yunnan province seismological bureau gave the magnitude of Friday night's quake and said it struck 8 kilometers 5 miles below the surface northwest of the city of Dali.
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Traffic on highways passing through the area has been rerouted to make way for emergency vehicles and to avoid damaged roads, the local government said.
China is regularly hit by earthquakes, especially in its mountainous western and southwestern regions.