Strong Quake Kills Hundreds in Southern China

BEIJING (AP) -
A general view shows collapsed houses after an earthquake hit Ludian county, Yunnan province (REUTERS/China Daily)
A general view shows collapsed houses after an earthquake hit Ludian county, Yunnan province (REUTERS/China Daily)
People look for survivors buried under debris after an earthquake hit Ludian county, Yunnan province Sunday. (REUTERS/China Daily)
People look for survivors buried under debris after an earthquake hit Ludian county, Yunnan province Sunday. (REUTERS/China Daily)

A strong earthquake in southern China’s Yunnan province toppled thousands of homes on Sunday, killing at least 367 people and injuring more than 1,800.

About 12,000 homes collapsed in Ludian, a densely populated county located around 277 miles northeast of Yunnan’s capital, Kunming, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The magnitude-6.1 quake struck at 4:30 p.m. at a depth of 6 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Its epicenter was in Longtoushan township, 14 miles southwest of the city of Zhaotong, the Ludian county seat.

Ma Liya, a resident of Zhaotong, told Xinhua that the streets there were like a “battlefield after bombardment.” She added that her neighbor’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.

“The aftermath is much, much worse than what happened after the quake two years ago,” Ma said. “I have never felt such strong tremors before. What I can see are all ruins.”

Xinhua said at least 367 people were killed in the quake, with 1,881 injured.

Most of the deaths — 357 — were in Zhaotong City, Xinhua said. Another 10 people were killed in Quijing City.

News reports said rescuers were still trying to reach victims in more remote towns Sunday night.

Photos on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media site, showed rescuers searching through flattened buildings and people injured amid toppled bricks.

The mountainous region where the quake occurred is largely agricultural, with farming and mining the top industries, and is prone to earthquakes.