Authorities in China say a series of earthquakes shook two rural provinces in the southwest part of the country on Friday, killing at least 64 people, destroying more than 6,600 homes, and leaving as many has 715 others injured.
A local seismological bureau says the quakes, which occurred between 11:19 am and 1:12 pm local time, ranged from a magnitude of 4.8 to 5.6 and struck rural, agricultural areas of Yunnan and Guizhou provinces.
According to CNN, the quakes have cut off electricity and triggered landslides that have blocked roads, creating complications for rescuers.
In response, Chinese President Hu Jintao has called for immediate efforts to help with disaster relief work in the area.
“The hardest part of the rescue now is traffic. Roads are blocked and rescuers have to climb the mountains to reach hard-hit villages,” Xinhua quoted Jintao, who is currently attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in the Russian city of Vladivostok, as saying.
Officials fear the death toll may be higher, due to landslides likely caused by the earthquakes, as with previous disasters.
By mid-afternoon, authorities had moved more than 100,000 people from the two regions as a series of more than 60 aftershocks struck. CRI.cn adds that nearly 100,000 others were still in need of relocation.
According to Reuters, the southwest region of China is prone to earthquakes, In 2008, more than 87,000 people died in the southwestern province of Sichuan when a 7.8-magnitude quake struck the region; and another 3,000 were killed in the western province of Qinghai in 2010 when a 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck.
Many of the deaths were blamed on shoddy construction.
CNN has more on the China earthquakes in the video below: