A magnitude 6.3 earthquake hitÂ southwestern China earlier in the day, killing at least 367 people and leaving 1,881 injured in a remote area of Yunnan province, while making someÂ buildings, including a school, to collapse.
The U.S. Geological Survey insists thatÂ the catastrophic accident wasÂ registered at a shallow depth of less than 1 mile (1.6 km). Chinese local mediaÂ reported that the quakeÂ was felt most strongly in Yunnan as well as in the neighboring provinces of Guizhou and Sichuan.
“The official Xinhua news agency said the epicenter was in Longtoushan town in Yunnan’s mountainous Ludian county,” Reuters says. “Communications have been seriously affected and rescuers have begun arriving on the scene.”
Pictures posted online by state media showed troops stretchering people away and cars damaged by fallen bricks.
About 12,000 buildings collapsed when the quake struck Sunday afternoon in the impoverished Ludian county, about 370 kilometers (230 miles) northeast of Yunnanâ€™s capital, Kunming.
The streets of Ludian county seat of Zhaotong were like a â€śbattlefield after a bombardment,â€ť resident Ma Liya told local reporters. She went on. revealing that her neighborâ€™s house, a new two-story building, had toppled, and said the quake was far worse than one that struck the area in 2012 and killed 81 people.
â€śI have never felt such strong tremors before. All I can see are ruins,â€ť Ma said. â€śThe aftermath is much, much worse than what happened after the quake two years ago.â€ť
Xinhua and state broadcaster CCTV reported that the deadly nature phenomenon claimed lives ofÂ 381 people while 1,891 were injured, three wentÂ missing and 29,400 had been evacuated from the scene. The death toll was expected to rise, once rescuers reached remote communities to assess casualties.
Many of the homes that were heavily damaged or collapsed inÂ Ludian, which has a population of about 429,000, were old and made of brick. Moreover,electricity and telecommunications were cut off in the county.
“The mountainous region where the quake occurred is largely agricultural, with farming and mining the top industries, and is prone to earthquakes,” explains Time. “Relief efforts were underway, with more than 2,500 troops dispatched to the disaster region, Xinhua said. The Red Cross Society of China allocated quilts, jackets and tents for those made homeless by the quake, while Red Cross branches in Hong Kong, Macau and neighboring Sichuan province also sent relief supplies.”
Premier Li Keqiang was en route to Yunnan to oversee quake relief.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered â€śhis condolences to the Chinese Government and the families of those killed,â€ť according to a statement from his office. The statement said the U.N. is ready to â€ślend its assistance to efforts to respond to humanitarian needsâ€ť and â€śto mobilize any international support needed.â€ť
The White House also sentÂ its condolences. â€śOur thoughts and prayers are with the families of those that lost their lives,â€ť said National Security Council deputy spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan. â€śThe United States stands ready to assist.â€ť
Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said the quake was the strongest to hit Yunnan in 14 years.
Back in 1970, a magnitude-7.7 earthquake in Yunnan took lives ofÂ 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.