At least 80 people have been confirmed dead and more than 700 were reported injured after multiple earthquakes struck a mountainous region in southwest China’s Yunnan province on Friday, authorities said on Saturday.
Two quakes measuring 5.7 and 5.6 on the Richter scale jolted the province, Xinhua reported. Around 740,000 people were affected by the quakes, officials said.
The disaster has so far caused losses worth 3.5 billion yuan (around $551 million), said the civil affairs department in Yunnan.
The quakes cut off electricity and triggered landslides that blocked roads, creating complications for rescuers.
Around 6,650 houses were destroyed and 430,000 partially damaged. More than 100,000 residents were evacuated and 100,000 others are in need of relocation.
Authorities are also taking epidemic control measures after shed collapses killed more than 4,300 cattle in Yunnan. Over 153 hectares of farmlands were damaged.
Officials said 28,000 people were affected in Weining county. At least 18 houses were toppled and more than 10,000 houses were partially damaged.
Chinese President Hu Jintao, who is in Russia for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, has called for immediate efforts to help with disaster relief work.
In a meeting on relief work held en route to the quake zone, Premier Wen Jiabao stressed that efforts to save lives should come first in order to minimize casualties.
Mr Wen said intensified efforts will be needed to take care of the injured, as well as restore damaged infrastructure facilities to facilitate the rescue work.
The Red Cross Society of China has dispatched 650 tents and 3,000 quilts to the disaster-hit region.
The Chengdu Military Area Command has sent 1,300 soldiers with relief materials.
Meteorological authorities said the region will experience rain in the coming three days, which may affect the ongoing rescue operations.
The quake-stricken area is relatively populous, with the population density estimated to be 205 people per square km.