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GALLERY:  Southwest China quake

An intense rescue operation was under way in China on Monday after an earthquake killed at least 381 people and injured thousands more, leaving scenes of devastation across a mountainous area.

More than 12,000 houses collapsed and 30,000 were damaged in the quake zone in the southwestern province of Yunnan, China’s official news agency Xinhua said.

Soldiers stretchered the injured away from the scene in the immediate aftermath, one carrying an elderly man on his back another a child in his arms, with residents fleeing in terror as aftershocks hit.

A paramilitary policeman carries an elderly man on his back after an earthquake hit Ludian county of Zhaotong. Photo: Reuters


Debris of collapsed houses are seen scattered along a street, after a deadly earthquake hit Longtoushan town on Sunday, in Ludian county, Zhaotong. Photo: Reuters

The US Geological Survey (USGS) reported the quake at a magnitude of 6.1 and said it struck at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometres at 4:30 pm (0830 GMT).

“Too many buildings were damaged and we are collecting data on deaths and injuries,” Xinhua quoted local official Chen Guoyong as saying in the township of Longtoushan, which sits at the epicentre.

State television broadcast footage of people running from their homes and gathering in the streets, as witnesses described the devastation on social networks.

“The walls of several buildings crumbled, and water pipes were ruptured. The electricity was cut off,” wrote a user in Ludian county, 23 km from the epicentre, on China’s Twitter-like Weibo.

The user’s message was accompanied by images of cracked walls and a pile of bricks strewn across the road.

Another Ludian resident described the scene as resembling a “battlefield after bombardment,” telling Xinhua: “I have never felt (such) strong tremors before. What I can see are all ruins.” - Reuters


Chinese residents and rescuers react after the earthquake hit an area of Ludian county in Zhaotong.


Photos: Reuters, AFP

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