At least 50 people were killed and more than 550 were injured after several earthquakes, the largest measuring magnitude 5.7, struck southwestern China Friday, according to local authorities and state media.
The earthquake's damage was heaviest in rural Yiliang county, in a mountainous northeastern part of Yunnan province, near the border with neighboring Guizhou province.
At least one elementary school collapsed in the earthquake, local authorities said, and rescue missions were underway. Local authorities said it wasn't clear whether any students had been killed in the quake.
The earthquakes immediately rekindled memories of the 2008 earthquake in Yunnan's neighboring Sichuan province, which left more than 80,000 people dead. Thousands of students then were killed after shoddily built schools collapsed, sparking nationwide outrage toward the government over lax building standards.
Rural Yunnan and Guizhou are among China's poorer regions, and heavily populated by non-Han Chinese ethnic minority groups, such as the Yi and Hui people.
A local government statement released Friday said at least 1,200 homes and buildings had been destroyed by the earthquake and 10,000 had sustained serious damage. The state-run Xinhua news agency reported 700,000 people had been so far affected by the earthquakes.
Xinhua said the first earthquake, which reached magnitude 5.7, struck at 11:19 a.m. Friday morning. At least 16 aftershocks followed, the strongest of which measured magnitude 5.6.
A spokesman for the local government's earthquake relief center said roads to the area had been severely damaged and police, firefighters and volunteers were working to repair them. Xinhua said landslides and rock falls had also caused significant damage and were hampering rescue workers' efforts to reach affected villages.