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Death toll rises in earthquake in Yunnan, China

The death toll continues to rise after a strong earthquake rattled China's southwestern province of Yunnan. More than 1,800 people were injured in the quake, which struck Sunday afternoon local time.

Chinese officials announced overnight that the death toll for

Sunday's earthquake

had risen to 381 people. The disaster struck Sunday at 0830 UTC, and was measured by the US Geological Service at 6.1-magnitude, 10 kilometers (6 miles) below ground.

"Honestly, it's such a shame that we had no time to take care of the bodies," Ma Hao, a college student who volunteered for the rescue operations, told the official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, adding that he had helped pull at least 40 injured people from collapsed buildings. "We need to help those alive first."

The China Earthquake Networks Center had initially measured the earthquake at 6.5-magnitude, with its epicenter in Longtoushan, a town in the county of Ludian with a population of about 400,000 people, according to Xinhua.

The earthquake also led to the collapse of more than 12,000 homes and left 30,000 more damaged, severing power lines and telecommunications, Xinhua reported. Heavy rain late into the night and forecast to last several days has hampered rescue efforts.

'Battlefield after bombardment'

By late Sunday night local time, more than 2,500 troops had arrived in the area, as well as 300 police officers and firefighters, and close to 400 rescue workers and 12 sniffer dogs. The civil authorities also sent tens of thousands of tents, beds and blankets.

Ma Liya, a resident of Ludian county, told Xinhua that the streets there were like a "battlefield after bombardment."

China is frequently struck by earthquakes in that part of the country. According to state media, in 1970, a 7.7-magnitude earthquake killed at least 15,000 people in Yunnan, and a magnitude-7.1 quake in the region killed more than 1,400 in 1974. In 2008, a quake in Sichuan killed almost 70,000 people.

mkg/hc (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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