Two earthquakes rocked southwestern China Friday leaving at least 50 dead and damaging more than 20,000 homes.
The dual quakes struck a mountainous region of Yunnan province and neighboring Guizhou province with the death toll and damage estimates expected to rise.
The New York Times reported that 100,000 people had been evacuated from their homes in the region.
The strongest of the quakes measured 5.7 on the Richter scale with about 16 aftershocks throughout the late morning and afternoon.
It was estimated that up to 700,000 people had been affected by the quake.
The worst affected area was rural Yiliang county, which saw 49 of the 50 deaths and another 150 people injured, said the Associated Press.
The quakes also caused landslides, making rural roads impassable and preventing rescuers from reaching more remote villages.
The Chinese government is keenly aware of the social turmoil massive natural disasters can cause.
The 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, which left over 70,000 dead and nearly five million homeless, led to protests and political scandals over the handling of the quake and the construction of collapsed schoolhouses.
The Wall Street Journal said that Chinese online forums were abuzz Friday with many asking how such extensive infrastructure damage could be caused by a moderate earthquake.
It was reported that power and communications in the region had also been severely disrupted.