Military rescue teams and doctors bearing food and medicine Thursday reached a remote mountainous southern region devastated by an earthquake that the government said killed more than 900 people.
The quake, which registered 7.6 on the Richter scale, was China's deadliest in 12 years. It struck Sunday in a thickly jungled area of Yunnan province, near the Burmese border.The national television news on Tuesday night local time broadcast the first pictures from the scene, showing an aerial view of row upon row of collapsed houses in one village and victims being pulled from the wreckage.
Most of the region's mud and wood homes are built on stilts because of heavy rains and would have little chance of surviving a major quake.
The television report, which said the quake affected a 16,000-mile, 14-county area, also showed army trucks loaded with troops moving into the area to help rescue work. It did not say how many troops were deployed.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs said 938 died in the quake, said Roy Morey, representative of the U.N. Development Program. The ministry told the British Broadcasting Corp. and other reporters that 939 people had been killed.
Morey said the ministry would not tell him how many people were injured or what were the immediate relief needs.
The quake was centered in Yunnan's heavily forested Lancang and Menglian counties, about 240 miles southwest of the provincial capital of Kunming. The State Seismology Bureau said 40 aftershocks had hit the stricken subtropical area, the strongest measuring 7.2.
Nearly all the houses in Lancang county, population 400,000, were destroyed, Morey quoted the Civil Affairs Ministry as saying.
The death toll in Sunday's quake is China's highest since July 28, 1976, when 242,000 people were killed in the northeast China city of Tangshan in the nation's worst natural disaster in modern times.
That quake measured 7.8 on the Richter scale.