Beijing: At least 64 people were killed and 715 others injured on Friday when a shallow earthquake followed by a series of aftershocks jolted the mountainous southwest China, triggering landslides and toppling over 20,000 homes.
The 5.7 magnitude earthquake hit the border area of Yiliang county in Yunnan province and Weining county in the neighbouring Guizhou province at 11:19 am local time, according to China Earthquake Networks Centre (CENC).
The epicentre of the quake was traced at Luozehe town, about 33 km away from the city centre of Zhaotong. Its depth was about 14 km.
Sixty-four people have been confirmed dead and 715 others were injured in the quakes, the official Xinhua news agency quoted officials from the Yunnan Province's civil affairs department as saying.
Forty nine people were killed in Yiliang while one death was reported from urban Zhaotong area, an provincial civil affairs department official said. Over 150 others were injured.
The death toll may rise further as rescuers are yet to reach some of the quake-hit villages blocked off by landslides and falling rocks, local officials said. Power and communications also appeared to be cut off in the worst-hit areas.
As of 1 pm local time, the quake was followed by 16 aftershocks, with the strongest measuring 5.6 on the Richter Scale, Yunnan's provincial seismological bureau said.
The quake affected over seven lakh people in Yiliang and Daguan counties as well as Zhaoyang district, which are all under the administration of Zhaotong. So far, more than one lakh people have been evacuated.
More than 20,000 houses were either damaged or had collapsed in the quake, according to the Yunnan provincial civil affairs department.
Southwest China is prone to earthquakes. In May 2008, an 8.0-magnitude quake rocked Sichuan and parts of neighbouring Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, killing tens of thousands of people.