Rescue efforts were underway Tuesday after an earthquake in southwestern China left 12 people dead and 135 others injured, authorities said.

Hundreds of firefighters arrived early Tuesday, June 18, and rescued at least eight trapped people, the Chinese Ministry of Emergency Management said.

State broadcaster CCTV showed soldiers using a chainsaw to cut through a wooden door and rescue a couple under a fallen kitchen wall.

According to the China Earthquake Networks Center, the earthquake struck at a depth of 16 kilometers (10 miles). Its epicenter was located outside Yibin, a city with a population of over 4.4 million.

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, rescue workers carry out a person from a collapsed building following a strong earthquake at Putao village of Shuanghe town in Changning County of Yibin City, southwest China's Sichuan Province, Tuesday, June 18, 2019. (Zhuang Ge'er/Xinhua via AP)
Rescue workers carry out a person from a collapsed building following a strong earthquake at Putao village of Shuanghe town in Changning County of Yibin City, southwest China’s Sichuan Province, on June 18, 2019. (Zhuang Ge’er/Xinhua via AP)

More than 4,400 people have been evacuated after 73 houses collapsed, authorities said.

More than 10,000 rooms within an undisclosed number of buildings were moderately damaged while 12 collapsed, according to Yibin authorities. The homes of more than 4,000 families were damaged in Gong county, according to AFP.

Most of the deaths were caused by damage to houses, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

A major highway and sections of other roads were closed, Xinhua said. CCTV showed a landslide down a hill and onto a road.

Sichuan emergency management said direct economic losses exceeded 10 million yuan ($1.4 million).

A 6.0 magnitude earthquake and a 5.1 magnitude aftershock struck the area in Sichuan province late Monday night. Aftershocks continued into Tuesday morning.

The hardest-hit area appeared to be Changning country, part of Yibin city. CCTV reported that a hospital in Changning transferred all of its patients because of building damage.

Earthquakes regularly strike Sichuan, where a powerful 7.9-magnitude quake left 87,000 people dead or missing in 2008.

In February, three earthquakes hit Rongxian county in the province, killing two people and injuring 12 others—casualties that residents blamed on fracking.

Local authorities later halted shale gas mining after thousands of residents protested.

Tags: Categories: World China