An earthquake hit a remote part of southwest China yesterday near the popular tourist area of Shangri-La, killing four people and injuring several, state media said.
The earthquake in Yunnan Province on the border with Sichuan Province sparked landslides, blocked roads, cut off communications and toppled or damaged tens of thousands of homes in the mountainous area.
One person died as falling rocks smashed into a tourist bus, killing the driver, said the Yunnan government, which put the total at four dead.
At least 10 people were injured, Xinhua news agency said.
The magnitude 5.8 quake, which struck at 8:04am, was centered on Yunnan’s Benzilan town, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said. It was about 10km deep.
The quake toppled 600 homes and damaged more than 55,000 others, forcing more than 9,000 local residents to relocate, Xinhua said.
State television showed clouds of dust rising from landslides on green mountains and pieces of broken cement that had fallen from buildings.
“During the earthquake this morning, the swaying the county felt was relatively severe,” Xinhua quoted Deqin County Deputy Party Secretary Liao Wencai (廖文才) as saying.
Benzilan is in Deqin County, roughly 60km from Shangri-La County, which is named after the fictional mountain paradise in the James Hilton novel Lost Horizon.
Local officials borrowed the name to attract more tourists to the area, which hosted around 7.6 million travelers last year.
Shangri-La itself was little affected, residents said.
“The building just shook a little bit and returned to normal fairly fast,” an employee at a local hotel said. The earthquake was the second in the area in four days after a magnitude 5.1 quake on Wednesday.
In July, twin quakes killed at least 95 people in China’s western Gansu Province.