A 6.6-magnitude tremor sent people fleeing from buildings across Sichuan province, which was devastated by a massive quake five years ago. The quake struck at 08:02 local time (00:02 GMT) on Saturday, with the China Earthquake Administration categorising it as a 7.0 magnitude, and the US Geological Survey (USGS) reporting it as 6.6.
Villages close to the epicentre in Lushan county were left in ruins, flattened. There have been at least 710 aftershocks, further damaging buildings and leaving them dangerous. Power and water supplies have been knocked out in Lushan county.
It has killed at least 160 people and injured at least 5,700 in China’s rural south-west.
Thousands of troops have been sent to Sichuan, and Premier Li Keqiang has arrived in the area. Rescuers have been able to pull some bodies and survivors from the rubble of devastated villages. But the rescue operation is being hampered by collapsed roads, broken telephone lines, and regular aftershocks.
A square outside the Lushan county hospital has been turned into a triage centre, with dozens of people being treated in tents.
According to the Xinhua news agency, at least 179 people have been confirmed dead and nearly 7,000 were injured. Thousands of rescue workers are still combing through quake-shattered villages in southwest China on Sunday in a race to find survivors as the death toll continues to rise.
Firefighters helped by sniffer dogs have pulled 91 people alive from the rubble, it said, citing the Ministry of Public Security.