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At least 150 dead after quake hits south-west China

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Rescuers in Zhaotong carry an injured child following the earthquake.

Rescuers in Zhaotong carry an injured child following the earthquake. Photo: AFP

A magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck south-western China on Sunday, killing at least 150 people in a remote mountainous area of Yunnan province, causing some buildings to collapse including a school.

The US Geological Survey said the quake registered at a shallow depth of less than 1600 metres. Chinese state media said it was felt most strongly in Yunnan, as well as in the neighbouring provinces of Guizhou and Sichuan. The China Earthquake Networks Centre said the magnitude was 6.5.

State television said on its microblog that the epicentre was in Yunnan's Ludian county, where the initial deaths were reported. There were also around 80 injuries, including a female student buried in rubble at a school, it added.

Residents look for survivors in the rubble of a collapsed house in Ludian county.

Residents look for survivors in the rubble of a collapsed house in Ludian county. Photo: AFP

Communications have been seriously affected and rescuers are rushing to the scene, the report said.

Pictures posted online by state media showed troops stretchering people away, and bricks which had fallen off buildings damaging cars.

The state broadcaster CCTV said Sunday's quake was the strongest to hit Yunnan in 14 years.

Xinhua said the quake toppled and cracked buildings, and that people rushed out onto the street as it hit. It also reported the Yunnan provincial earthquake administration sent a 30-member team to the quake's epicentre.

Chen Guoyong, the head of Longtoushan township, told Xinhua that many houses there had collapsed, and that rescue workers were working to determine casualties.

CCTV reported the quake loosened rocks that blocked a road near the city of Zhaotong and broadcast an image of a car apparently damaged by debris.

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 1400 in 1974. In September 2012, 81 people died and 821 were injured in a series of quakes in the Yunnan region. A quake in Sichuan in 2008 killed almost 70,000 people.

China is frequently struck by quakes in this part of the country.

Reuters, AP

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