At least 21 people have been killed in a strong earthquake that struck south-western China and was felt by millions of people confined to their homes under a strict Covid lockdown in Chengdu.
The 6.6-magnitude quake hit about 26 miles (43km) south-east of the city of Kangding at a depth of about six miles, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.
Fourteen people died in Shimian County and seven were killed in nearby Luding County, while more than 30 were injured, according to the state broadcaster, CCTV.
Tremors also shook buildings in the Sichuan provincial capital of Chengdu and the nearby city of Chongqing.
One resident, Chen, said: “I felt it quite strongly and some of my neighbours on the ground floor said they felt it very noticeably.
“But because Chengdu is under epidemic management, people aren’t allowed to leave their residential compounds, so many of them rushed out into their courtyards.”
CCTV reported that mountain landslides triggered by the quake caused “severe damage” in at least one town.
A road to another town was blocked and telecommunications lines in areas home to more than 10,000 people were severed, the broadcaster said, adding that shocks also forced some power stations offline in Garzê and Ya’an.
A video posted online by the China Earthquake Networks Centre showed boulders plunging down mountainsides in Luding County, kicking up clouds of dust as tremors caused telephone lines to sway.
State media reported that several aftershocks were recorded in nearby areas. A smaller 4.6-magnitude tremor struck eastern Tibet less than an hour after the initial quake, according to the USGS.
Hundreds of rescue workers were dispatched to the epicentre, CCTV reported, showing footage of firefighters in orange jumpsuits boarding lorries and navigating a motorway littered with rocks and other debris.
The Sichuan seismological authority said more than 1,000 soldiers had been brought in to help rescue workers.
Authorities also sent thousands of tents, blankets and foldable beds to the affected areas, according to the broadcaster.
China’s president, Xi Jinping, called for local authorities to “make saving lives the first priority, go all out to rescue people in disaster-stricken areas and minimise loss of life”, CCTV reported.
A resident of Chongqing said the quake was “pretty noticeable” and that it had shaken the lights and furniture in his fifth-floor apartment.
An 8.0-magnitude earthquake in 2008 in Sichuan left tens of thousands of people dead and caused enormous damage.
In June, at least four people were killed and dozens more injured in two earthquakes in south-western China.
Authorities in Chengdu extended the city’s lockdown on Sunday as coronavirus cases crept up.
The region has also endured a summer of extreme weather, with a record-breaking heatwave causing rivers to dry up in areas including Chongqing.