China rocket parts hit villager's home: police, media

The Chang'e-3 rocket carrying the Jade Rabbit rover blasts off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province on December 2, 2013 (AFP Photo/)

Beijing (AFP) - Debris from a rocket carrying a Chinese satellite into orbit crashed into a villager's home minutes after the launch, local police and media reports said.

The parts plummeted to earth with a huge roar Thursday morning in Xunyang county in the northern province of Shaanxi, news portal Sina said on a social media account, citing local sources. No casualties were reported, it added.

Pictures showed a man standing beside what appeared to be a rocket nozzle as tall as him, in front of a cracked wall and with pieces of broken bricks on the ground.

Another image showed a large hole in a red-tiled roof.

In a post on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo, Xunyang police said the machinery was part of a rocket's propulsion system and called on local residents "not to panic".

A Long March-4 rocket carrying a remote sensing satellite -- which is to be used for experiments, land surveys, crop yield estimates and disaster prevention -- was launched into space from neighbouring Shanxi province nine minutes before the impact, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Beijing views its ambitious, military-run, multi-billion-dollar space programme as a symbol of the country's progress, but it is not unknown for pieces of it to plunge through villagers' roofs.

In 2013, debris from a rocket carrying China's first moon rover plummeted to earth more than 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) from the launch site, crashing into two homes.