Hundreds of thousands of people are feared dead following an 8.3 magnitude earthquake in China.

The quake has virtually destroyed the city of Tangshan, north-east of Beijing, and Western sources believe the death toll may be much higher than the official figure of 240,000. Some believe the figure is more like 750,000.

The Hong Kong Royal Observatory reports the earthquake was intense although speculation of the magnitude of the quake ranges from 6.3 to 8.3.

Around 2,000 people are believed to have died when the quake devastated the city's biggest hospital, according to sources quoting Chinese officials.

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