Powerful earthquake hit southwestern China: four dead and one hundred injured

A powerful earthquake hit a mountainous region in southwestern China on Sunday, killing at least four and over 100 were injured.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which estimated the magnitude at 5.5, the quake occurred at the border of Sichuan and Yunnan shortly before 4:00 am (0800 GMT).

The magnitude of the earthquake was estimated at 5.7 by the Chinese authorities. The earthquake was followed by a 3.3 magnitude aftershock, said the Chinese seismological services.

The earthquake caused the destruction of homes and cut off communications in several areas near Ninglang County, Yunnan.

Three people were killed in Ninglang County and a fourth person in the neighboring county of Yanyuan in Sichuan. The quake also injured 104, 20 of which were in serious condition, said local authorities.

The authorities in Yunnan Province have sent relief materials to Ninglang County, including 1,100 tents and 3,000 blankets.

An official from the historic town of Lijiang, capital Ninglang County,said it was too early to assess the casualties and the extent of damage.

The area affected by the earthquake is populated by inhabitants of the Yi ethnic minority. Beijing estimates that the number of members of this minority is about 7.8 million, living in four provinces, mainly in Yunnan and Sichuan.