A series of strong earthquakes struck a far western Tibetan area of China on Wednesday, killing at least 400 people and injuring more than 10,000 as houses made of mud and wood collapsed, trapping many more, officials said.
The largest quake was recorded by the U.S. Geological Survey as magnitude 6.9. In the aftermath, panicked people, many bleeding from their wounds, flooded the streets of a Qinghai province township where most of the homes had been flattened.
Paramilitary police used shovels to dig through the rubble in the town, footage on state television showed. Officials said excavators were not available and with most of the roads leading to the nearest airport damaged, equipment and rescuers would have a hard time reaching the area.
Downed phone lines, strong winds and frequent aftershocks also hindered rescue efforts, said Wu Yong, a local military chief.
Workers were racing to release water from a reservoir in the disaster area where a crack had formed after the quake to prevent a flood, according to the China Earthquake Administration.