World Bulletin/News Desk
Rescuers in southwestern China tried on Saturday to reach remote communities rocked by back-to-back earthquakes that killed at least 89 people and damaged tens of thousands of buildings, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Friday's shallow 5.6 magnitude quakes struck an impoverished, mountainous part of the country with poor infrastructure and telecommunications and the death toll could rise as news trickles out of cut-off areas, it said.
Most of the victims were from Yiliang county in Yunnan province, near the epicentre.
Footage from state broadcaster CCTV showed boulder-covered roadways, abandoned cars and black smoke billowing from buildings.
President Hu Jintao, visiting the Russian city of Vladivostok for an Asia-Pacific summit, called for efforts to help the victims and Premier Wen Jiabao headed to the quake zone, Xinhua reported.
Rescuers in Yunnan said late on Friday they had reached 90 percent of the six quake-hit counties under the jurisdiction of Zhaotong city, where 740,000 people had been affected by the quakes, it said.
Direct economic losses tallied 3.5 billion yuan ($552 million), Yunnan's civil affairs department was quoted as saying.
Officials in neighbouring Guizhou said two people were injured and the lives of nearly 28,000 people were disrupted in Weining county, on the Yunnan border.
Buildings in China's less developed regions are often built with little regard for construction standards, making them susceptible to earthquakes.
The first one at 11:19 a.m. (0319 GMT) on Friday and the second one about 45 minutes later at a depth of about 10 km (6 miles), according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Earthquakes with an epicentre less than 70 km (45 miles) below the surface are considered shallow and can cause significant damage, even at lower magnitudes.
In 2008, about 87,600 people were killed in the southwestern province of Sichuan when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit. Many of the victims died in the rubble of homes and schools built without adequate steel reinforcement.
Week of Peace events in troubled Philippines south aim to bring different religious communities together, heal rifts of recent years
Police say muezzin has been killed and three worshippers wounded in the shooting, a rare attack on minority Shiite Muslims
Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau says pollutants emitted by vehicles in city will be cut by as much as 30 percent by 2022
Provoking anger and amusement, Taiwanese flag appeared alongside in ISIL propaganda video released listed Taiwan as one of Washington's 'close counterterrorism partners' in Asia-Pacific
China calls for peace and stability after Japan, US agree to continue drills in disputed sea
Minister says violence not the answer as police hunt continues for ISIL militants in mountains of Indonesia's north
Haroon Bhatti, founding member of outlawed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group, was arrested in Dubai last month and brought back to Pakistan
Muslims in Myanmar have been banned from printing their own calendars, with senior Buddhist monks imploring for stricter sentencing on the publisher and his associates.
PM Abe says Japan to pledge $10.6 billion for climate policies in developing countries
'Tragic but avoidable accident (was) caused primarily by human error,' General John Campbell says
Japanese, US officials decide to hold joint exercises in contested sea amid China's maritime expansion
'Seven people - six pilgrims and the lady pilot - died in the crash,' a police official says
Residents rush for open space as tremors shake cities across region
Former Muslim rebel group orders officials to combat illegal drugs, while communist insurgents launch similar campaign in nearby provinces
More than 70 Pakistani journalists and other media workers have lost their lives since 2001 while pursuing their duties
Obama says he invited leaders from ASEAN to the US, insisting that good ties with Asian nations were 'absolutely critical' to US security