China’s north-west Gansu province has been hit by two powerful earthquakes killing at least 47 people and injuring almost 300.
The first earthquake near Dingxi city had a magnitude of 5.98 and was shallow, with a depth of just 6 miles, the US Geological Survey said
Just over an hour later, a magnitude 5.6 quake hit the same area, it added.
In 2008, an earthquake in Sichuan province left up to 90,000 people dead and millions homeless.
At least 47 people had been killed, reports from China’s national radio and Agence-France Presse news agency citing local officials said.
Another 296 other people were injured, the Dingxi local government said on its official Sina Weibo microblog.
A factory worker in Min county told AFP that he felt “violent shaking” and “ran to the yard of the [factory] plant immediately”.
“Our factory is only one floor. When I came to the yard, I saw a 18 storey building, the tallest in our county, shaking ferociously, especially the 18th floor,” he said.
The area has been hit by 371 aftershocks, according to the Earthquake Administration of Gansu province.
At least 5,600 houses in the province’s Zhangxian county are seriously damaged and 380 have collapsed, while some areas suffered from power cuts or mobile communications being disrupted, the earthquake administration added.
The closer to the surface an earthquake strikes, the more damage it can cause, our correspondent adds.
The earthquake reportedly triggered a series of mudslides and landslides, state-run news agency Xinhua reported.
The Gansu military police has deployed 500 soldiers, including 120 specialist rescuers, while 500 emergency tents and 2,000 quilts are also being transported to affected areas, Xinhua added.
Officials from the civil affairs, transportation and earthquake departments are also visiting local towns to assess the damage, a statement on the Dingxi party website said.
“You could see the chandeliers wobble and the windows vibrating and making noise, but there aren’t any cracks in the walls,” AP news agency quoted a clerk at Wuyang Hotel, about 25 miles from the epicentre, as saying.
“Shop assistants all poured out onto the streets when the shaking began,” the clerk said.