Rescue workers are continuing efforts to reach remote communities hit by back-to-back earthquakes in southwestern China.
At least 80 people are thought to have been killed by Friday’s shallow 5.6 magnitude quake which struck an impoverished, mountainous part of the country with poor infrastructure.
Most of the victims are from Yiliang country in Yunnan province, near the epicentre. 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.
Rescuers in Yunnan said late on Friday they had reached 90 per cent of the six quake-hit counties under the jurisdiction of Zhaotong city, where 740,000 people have been affected by the
Prime Minister Wen Jiabao headed to the area to oversee efforts to help the victims. Given the scale of destruction, officials say the death toll could rise.
President Hu Jintao is also expected to cut short his visit to Russia for the Asia-Pacific summit.
Earthquakes with an epicentre less than 70 km 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.