BEIJING - A series of strong earthquakes rattled northwest and southwest China, leaving at least two people dead, local officials and seismologists said early Saturday.
Both Qinghai province in the northwest on the Tibetan plateau and Yunnan province in southwestern China are areas prone to earthquakes. And both tremors were shallow, meaning they generally cause more damage.
The Yunnan quake, which had a magnitude of 6.1, struck first at 9:48 p.m. Friday (1348 GMT) near the city of Dali, a popular tourist destination, the U.S. Geological Survey said. It was followed by at least two aftershocks, USGS said.
Two people were confirmed dead in the mountainous area, local officials said in a statement, adding that at least 17 others had been injured and were receiving treatment.
A few hours later, at 1804 GMT, more than 1,200 kilometers away, a 7.3 magnitude quake jolted China's sparsely populated Qinghai province in the northwest, followed by an aftershock.
There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage from the remote area. State news agency Xinhua said the epicenter was in Maduo County.
In Yunnan, the provincial government said some buildings had collapsed and others had been damaged, and that the "disaster situation was undergoing further verification."
More than 20,000 people have been evacuated, it said. More than 100,000 people live in the area, most of them in rural communities.
Local media published videos showing ceiling lamps swinging and vases falling off shelves, as well as groups of people who had run outdoors after the quake.
The China Earthquake Networks Center warned people to "stay away from buildings" in a post on the Twitter-like Weibo platform.
The quake monitor said the earthquake followed a series of smaller quakes less than an hour before.
China is regularly hit by earthquakes, especially in its mountainous western and southwestern regions.
— A 7.9 magnitude quake in southwest Sichuan province in 2008 left 87,000 people dead or missing.
— In February 2003, a 6.8-magnitude quake killed 268 people in Xinjiang and caused significant damage.
— In 2010, a 6.9 magnitude quake in Qinghai left 3,000 people dead or missing.
— And in October 2014, hundreds of people were injured and more than 100,000 displaced when a 6.0 magnitude tremor hit Yunnan, close to China's borders with Myanmar and Laos.