Two strong shallow earthquakes rocked China’s northwestern Gansu province Monday, killing more than 70 people and injuring hundreds of others.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the first quake had a magnitude of 5.9 and struck early Monday morning. About 90 minutes later a 5.6 magnitude quake hit the same region.
Gansu officials said that by midday, nearly 400 aftershocks followed in the wake of the first quakes.
Lin, a doctor who works at a village clinic in the disaster area said many of the injured were hit in the head by falling bricks. He said that some with more serious injuries have been sent to the county hospital.
According to officials, an initial investigation found that more than 1,200 homes collapsed during the quake and thousands of others sustained serious damages.
Lin said landslides in the nearby mountains are blocking roads, and that many homes made of brick and mud have collapsed. He said the army is helping villagers remove debris from the quake.
Forecasters predict heavy rains for the earthquake affected area this week, which could further complicate rescue efforts, triggering more landslides and possibly flooding.
Gansu is just north of China’s Sichuan province, the site of a massive 7.9 earthquake that struck in 2008, killing nearly 90,000 people.
The quake is the second to hit China is recent months. Earlier this year a magnitude 6.6 quake struck in neighboring Sichuan toppling buildings, triggering landslides and leaving nearly 200 dead.