At least 75 people are dead following a 6.6 magnitude earthquake in China’s western Gansu province.

Hundreds more are injured in Minxian and Zhangxian counties after the earthquake hit at 7.45am (12.45am Irish time).

Reports from the official Xinhua news agency put the number of seriously injured at 296.

Eight towns in the remote, mountainous area have sustained serious damage in the quake and subsequent flooding and mudslides.

There have also been power outages in the area.

The Red Cross Society of China has sent relief supplies to the affected area, including jackets and tents.

One local doctor claimed that "many have been injured due to collapsed houses".

Photos posted on Chinese social media show roads subsided on riverbanks and farmhouses reduced to piles of red bricks.

About 380 buildings collapsed and a further 5,600 sustained structural damage in Zhanxian County according to local government sources.

Heavy rain is forecast for the areas hit by the quake, which officials fear could compound the damage by causing further landslides and flooding.

A second 5.6 earthquake struck the region about 90 minutes after the first, the most significant of several aftershocks.

The United States Geological Survey said the first quake had a magnitude of 5.9.

Gansu borders Sichuan province, where a 6.6 magnitude quake in April killed 164 people and injured more than 6,700, China's worst quake in three years.

The earthquake in April hit close to where a devastating 7.9 quake killed 70,000 people in May 2008.

Among those killed in the 2008 quake were thousands of children, raising suspicions that the schools that had collapsed on them had been poorly constructed.

A school building in Minxian County was also damaged, although it is believed no students were injured because they were away on summer holiday.