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Earthquake jolts Soviet central Asian region

A powerful earthquake Tuesday caused major destruction in several towns in the south of the Soviet Union. A government team was touring the area, but there were no reports on the extent of damage or the number of casualties.

The quake was centered about 120 miles from Tashkent, capital of the Soviet central Asian republic of Uzbekistan and occured at 2:29 a.m.

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An official at the Seismological Institute in Tashkent said the quake measured over nine points, classed as ''devastating,'' on the 12-point Soviet scale. The US Geological Survey in Golden, Colo., measured the quake at 7.1 on the Richter scale.

The area lies along one of the fault lines in the earth's crust and is particularly prone to violent seismic upheavals.

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