At least 12 people were killed when a 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck southwestern China, government sources said Wednesday, but the toll was expected to climb as news trickles out of the remote mountainous region.
The earthquake occurred late Tuesday, killing 12 and injuring 175, 28 of them seriously, according toa statement by the government of Aba prefecture, where the epicentre was located.
But China's National Commission for Disaster Reduction estimated that as many as 100 people may have perished, based on past census data of the sparsely populated region.
Initial images emerging from the quake zone showed paramilitary police searching through rubble for survivors.
Elsewhere,stunned people were seen milling about on debris-strewn streets, fearful of going back inside in case of further tremors.
At leastone aftershock, measured at 4.2 magnitude by the US Geological Survey (USGS), hit the region shortly after the main quake.
Early on Wednesday, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake shook northwest China's Xinjiang region, thousands of kilometres from Sichuan, according to the (USGS).
Itstruck at around 7.30 am (2330 GMT) and was followed by two aftershocksof 5.2 and 5.3 magnitude, but there were no immediate reports of damageor casualties from the remote area.
TheNational Commission for Disaster Reduction estimated that more than 130,000 houses may have been damaged, based on a preliminary analysis ofthe disaster in Sichuan province.