The death toll of China’s earthquake that hit Yunnan province on Sunday has reached 589, officials say.
The 6.1-magnitude quake struck a mountainous area, destroying thousands of houses and triggering landslides.
A total of 589 people were killed and nine were missing, China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs said. More than 2,400 people were hurt, it said.
Several roads have been blocked and there are concerns about barrier lakes formed when debris blocks rivers.
The 6.1-magnitude quake struck a mountainous area, destroying thousands of houses and triggering landslides (photo AP)
The quake’s epicentre was in Longtoushan Township in Ludian County, a region with steep hills and narrow roads.
China has sent thousands of troops to the area to assist survivors and search debris for any trapped people.
Tents and relief goods are also being brought in both by road and helicopter.
But teams trying to repair damaged roads are being hampered by torrential rain, rockfalls and aftershocks, local reports say.
Officials have also urged volunteers to stay away from the area because the damage to infrastructure means routes that are open are very congested.
Meanwhile, about 4,200 residents have been evacuated from one area because of a barrier lake on the Niulan River.
Waters levels in the lake were rising at a rate of 16cm per hour, Xinhua news agency quoted a technical specialist as saying late on Tuesday.
Sixty soldiers was also trapped by a flood from a barrier lake on Tuesday and had to be rescued, the report added.
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A 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck south-west China killing at least 367 people, state news agency Xinhua says.
Other 1,300 people are reported injured in the disaster.
According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the quake struck about 7 miles north-west of Wenping in Yunnan province at 16:30 local time.
A major rescue and relief operation is under way.
State broadcaster CCTV said the earthquake was the strongest to hit the province in 14 years.
The quake struck about 7 miles north-west of Wenping in Yunnan province (photo Reuters)
The USGS said the quake struck at a depth of about 6 miles in a remote mountainous area in Yunnan province.
The tremor was also felt in the neighboring provinces of Guizhou and Sichuan.
Xinhua said about 12,000 homes had collapsed in Ludian, a county of some 439,000 people, north-east of Yunnan province’s capital, Kunming.
All of the casualties reported so far are in Qiaojia County of the Zhaotong region, which appeared to be the hardest hit.
The government is sending 2,000 tents, 3,000 folding beds, 3,000 quilts and 3,000 coats to the disaster zone, the report said.
After initial reports of a death toll of 26, the numbers of casualties rose sharply, passing 150 before Xinhua reported a figure of 367 killed.
The news agency says the epicentre of the earthquake was in Longtoushan in Yunnan’s Ludian county.
Chen Guoyong, the head of Longtoushan township, told Xinhua that many houses had fallen and rescuers had been sent to the epicenter.
Many people rushed out of buildings onto the street after the quake hit, electricity supplies were cut and at least one school collapsed, Xinhua reports.
Communications have also been seriously affected.
South-west China lies in an area that is prone to earthquakes. An earthquake in Sichuan in 2008 killed tens of thousands of people.
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