Rescuers dug through shattered homes yesterday looking for survivors of a strong earthquake in southern China's Yunnan province as the death toll rose to at least 400 people, with more than 1,800 injured.
About 12,000 homes collapsed when the quake struck Sunday afternoon in impoverished Ludian county, around 370 kilometers northeast of Yunnan's capital, Kunming.
Ma Yaoqi, an 18-year-old volunteer in the quake zone, said by phone that at least half of the buildings had collapsed on the road from the city centre of Zhaotong to the hardest hit town of Longtou. The rest of the buildings were damaged, she said.
"I saw dead bodies being wrapped in quilts and carried away," said Ma, who had arrived with 20 other volunteers. "Some were wrapped with small quilts. Those must be kids."
Overhead footage of the quake zone shot by state broadcaster CCTV showed older houses flattened but newer multistory buildings still standing.
The magnitude 6.1 quake struck at 4:30 pm on Sunday at a depth of 10 kilometers. Rain and thunderstorms were forecast for the area today, complicating efforts to bring tents, water, food and other relief supplies to survivors.