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.
Predecessor resigned 18 months before tenure due to expire amid probe into links between PM, debt-ridden state wealth fund
Defends Facebook post for which he was convicted and ordered to pay $40,000 in fines and compensation
Gov't meets leaders of 2 of country's most powerful rebel groups, who had previously refused to participate in peace talks
President Rodrigo Duterte threatened ceasefire withdrawal with communists after rebels involved in death of gov’t employee
Jin Kyung-joon, a vice ministerial-level official, is the first high levelprosecutor arrested while in office
Official says executions of 10 other drug smugglers to be held at later stage, without providing details
Sherbakov was also ordered by the court to pay $23,000 in compensation to the woman's family over the November 2015 killing.
National Security Council Act necessary, says Najib Razak, and other countries have since followed Malaysia's lead
China and Russia will hold "routine" naval drills in the South China Sea in September
Boy shot during riots caused by allegations that Hindu man burned copy of Quran
Secretary of state says Hague decison on disputes of ownership legally binding ; expects compliance
Report says families of missing people still lack closure, years after end of civil war in 2009
South Korean military reveals recent discovery of North Korean leaflets in Han River
China slams statement released by allies urging sides abide by Hague court’s South China Sea ruling in favor of Manila
Attorney general does not deny executions may be held at end of week as security tightened around notorious prison island
Irom Sharmila brings protest to end to enter politics, continue fight against human rights abuses