Beijing, Sept 7, 2012 (AFP) - At least 43 people were killed and 150 injured when two shallow earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.6 struck southwest China on Friday, officials said.
Another 100,000 people were made homeless by the quakes, which struck on the border of southwestern Yunnan and Guizhou provinces around the middle of the day.
An online statement issued by the public affairs bureau in Yunnan's Zhaotong city said 43 people had been killed there and 20,000 houses had collapsed or been damaged.
The US Geological Survey said the first quake struck at 11.20am (0320 GMT) at a depth of around 10 kilometres (six miles), with a second quake around an hour later. Both had a magnitude of 5.6.
Television footage from state broadcaster CCTV showed hundreds of people gathered on the streets in the town of Yiliang, which appeared to have been worst hit, and streets strewn with fallen bricks and rocks.
Local residents described how people ran out of buildings screaming as the quake hit.
"I was walking on the street when I suddenly felt the ground shaking beneath me. People started rushing outside screaming, it still scares me to think of it now," posted one on Sina Weibo, a microblogging service similar to Twitter.
Another Weibo user who was driving when the quake hit said he felt the road shake beneath him and struggled to keep hold of the steering wheel.
Photographs posted online showed streets strewn with rocks and bricks from damaged buildings.
The first quake was also felt in neighbouring Sichuan Province. The China Earthquake Networks Centre put its magnitude at 5.7 and said it struck at a depth of 14 kilometres (nine miles).
Southwest China is prone to earthquakes. In May 2008, an 8.0-magnitude quake rocked Sichuan and parts of neighbouring Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, killing tens of thousands and flattening swathes of the province.