175 killed and 12,000 homes collapse in massive quake
A STRONG earthquake in southern China's Yunnan province has toppled thousands of homes, killing at least 175 people and injuring over 1,400.
About 12,000 homes collapsed in Ludian, a densely populated county located around 366km north-east of Yunnan's capital, Kunming.
The magnitude-6.1 quake struck at 4.30pm local time at a depth of 10km, according to the US Geological Survey.
Its epicentre was in Longtoushan township, 23km south-west of the city of Zhaotong.
Ma Liya, a resident of Zhaotong, said that the streets there were like a "battlefield after bombardment". She added that her neighbour's house, a new two-storey building, had toppled.
At least 175 people were killed in the quake, with 181 missing and 1,402 injured.
At least 122 of the dead were in Ludian, with another 1,300 people injured there.
Another 49 people died, one was missing and 102 were injured in Qiaojia county, which has a population of 580,000.
Reports said rescuers were still trying to reach victims in more remote towns last night.
Photos on the Chinese social media site Weibo showed rescuers searching through flattened buildings and people injured amid toppled bricks.
The homes that collapsed in Ludian, which has a population of about 429,000, were mostly old brick houses, and electricity and telecommunications were cut off in the county.
The Red Cross Society of China has allocated 2,000 quilts, 2,000 jackets and 200 tents to aid those made homeless by the quake, while Red Cross branches in Hong Kong, Macau and neighbouring Sichuan province have also sent relief supplies.
The mountainous region where the quake occurred is largely agricultural, with farming and mining the top industries, and is prone to earthquakes.
State broadcaster CCTV said the quake was the strongest to hit Yunnan in 14 years.
In 1970, a magnitude-7.7 earthquake in Yunnan killed at least 15,000 people, and a magnitude-7.1 quake in the province killed more than 1,400 in 1974. In September 2012, 81 people died and 821 were injured in a series of quakes in the Yunnan region.
In May 2008, a quake in Sichuan province left nearly 90,000 people dead or missing.