Chinese state media say the death toll from a powerful earthquake that struck the western region of Sichuan Saturday morning has climbed to at least 71 people, with about 600 injured
China's official Xinhua news agency said that the death toll could rise as search and rescue teams make their way into the affected areas.
State media say hard-hit parts of Lushan country remain unreachable by road, with phone services cut off. Aerial photos released by China's military and shown on state television showed individual houses in ruins and some stretches of the county seat and villages flattened into rubble.
China's premier, Li Keqiang, has flown to the region to oversee relief efforts.
Sichuan's provincial seismological bureau put the strength of the quake at 7.0, while the U.S. Geological Survey said it was 6.6 magnitude, which is capable of causing severe damage. The quake occurred at a depth of 12 kilometers.
Xinhua said the quake also rattled buildings in the provincial capital, Chengdu, 115 kilometers to the east.
A strong earthquake struck Sichuan in 2008, killing more than 70,000 people.