A magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck southwestern China killing at least 367 people and leaving more than 180 missing.
1,881 were injured in a remote area of Yunnan province, causing thousands of buildings,including a school, to collapse.
The US Geological Survey said the quake registered at a shallow depth of 1.6km.
Chinese state media said it was felt most strongly in Yunnan as well as in the neighbouring provinces of Guizhou and Sichuan.
The official Xinhua news agency said the epicentre was in Longtoushan town in Yunnan's mountainous Ludian county.
Communications have been seriously affected and rescuers have begun arriving on the scene, the report said.
Pictures posted online by state media showed troops stretchering people away and cars damaged by fallen bricks.
Many people rushed out of buildings onto the street after the quake hit.
Electricity supplies were cut and at least one school collapsed, with more than 12,000 houses having collapsed and 30,000 sustaining damage.
Ludian resident Ma Liya told Xinhua the streets were like a "battlefield after bombardment".
The government is sending 2,000 tents, 3,000 folding beds,3,000 quilts and 3,000 coats to the disaster zone.
Heavy rain is forecast for the coming days and will add to the misery, the report said.
Ludian is home to 265,900 people, Xinhua added.
This region of China is frequently struck by quakes, with one killing more than 1,400 in the same part of Yunnan in 1974.
A quake in Sichuan in 2008 killed almost 70,000 people.