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Multiple deaths and injuries in China earthquake

Rescuers search for earthquake survivors in the rubble of a building in Yibin, in China’s southwest Sichuan province.Courtesy: AFP, STR/AFP

A rescue mission is underway in heavy rain in China after a strong 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck China’s Sichuan province killing at least 11 people and injuring 122 others.

The quake hit at about 10.55pm local time (12.55am AEST) at a depth of 16km, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center.

A series of at least four aftershocks, the largest of which had a magnitude of 5.1, took place in the following 40 minutes.

The US Geological Survey put the magnitude of the main quake at 5.8, adding that “extensive damage is probable and the disaster is likely widespread”.

A hotel close to the epicentre collapsed, but it was not immediately clear if there were any casualties from that incident, the agency said. Cracks appeared in several area highways.

State broadcaster CCTV showed footage of rescuers bringing a survivor out of the rubble of a building on a stretcher. Other images showed a woman being helped out of another collapsed structure.

Images from Changning County showed an electricity pole knocked down on the roof of a building, a hole in a brick home andbroken windows on the street.

Eight died in Changning County and three others in Qixian County, the Yibin city government said in its Twitter-like Weibo account. Rescuers pulled six bodies and seven survivors from buildings, it added.

More than 300 firefighters have been dispatched to the scene. Rescue personnel were also sent with 5000 tents, 10,000 folding cots and other emergency supplies, Xinhua reported.

Videos circulating on social media showed chandeliers and other light fixtures swaying from the shaking.

AFP was unable to independently verify the authenticity of the footage.

Earthquakes regularly strike Sichuan, where a powerful 7.9-magnitude quake left 87,000 people dead or missing in 2008.

In February, three earthquakes hit Rongxian county in the province, killing two people and injuring 12 others — casualties that residents blamed on fracking.

Local authorities later halted shale gas mining after thousands of residents protested.