About 100 people are feared to have died after a magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck in a mountainous south-western regions.
Seven people died and 88 were injured in the quake late on Tuesday, 21 of them seriously, the official Xinhua news agency said. It said all the dead were visitors to the area.
China is regularly hit by earthquakes, especially in its mountainous western and south-west China. China’s national commission for disaster reduction estimated that as many as 100 people may have died, based on 2010 census data of the mountainous, sparsely populated region.
More than 130,000 houses may be damaged, it added in a statement posted on its website, based on a preliminary analysis of the disaster in a remote region of Sichuan province.
The president, Xi Jinping, called for “all-out efforts to rapidly organise relief work and rescue the injured people”, according to Xinhua.
Tang Sesheng, a restaurant owner, fled her establishment in the town of Jiuzhaigou after she felt the earth moving under her. “I was also in Jiuzhaigou in 2008 during the last big quake, so I knew what it was. This felt even stronger,”
The quake occurred about 9.20pm (1320 GMT), not far from the site of a massive magnitude 8.0 earthquake that struck in 2008 leaving 87,000 people dead or missing.
Its epicentre was 284 kilometres (176 miles) north of the provincial capital Chengdu and struck at a depth of 10 kilometres, the US Geological Survey said. The affected region, Jiuzhaigou county, includes one of the country’s most famous national parks, a Unesco World Heritage Site.
The Red Cross Society of China said it was deploying emergency specialists and volunteers to assist affected communities.
“The quake hit at night, communications lines and electricity are disrupted and people are no doubt shocked and scared,” said Gwendolyn Pang, a spokeswoman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in China. “It may take some time to learn the extent of damage and casualties.”