Beijing: China on Sunday launched an all-out rescue operation after a powerful 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck quake-prone Sichuan Province, killing at least five people and affecting nearly 80,000 others.
Fifty-four people were injured, including six in critical condition and another five suffering severe injuries, latest updates said.
Chinese leaders have urged all-out rescue efforts after the quake hit the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province yesterday.
"The death toll from the quake rose to five," officials said.
"The provincial and civil affairs authorities must be swift in organising rescue and relief work and do their best to minimise casualties," said President Xi Jinping, who was on a state-visit to Fiji.
Nearly 80,000 people have been affected by the quake and 25,000 houses were damaged. About 6,200 people had been relocated, the provincial civil affair department said in a statement.
A 35-member rescue team of armed police has arrived at Tagong township, the epicenter, two hours after the quake occurred. Six military aircraft, 60 medical staff and nearly 1,000 soldiers and militia are ready for mission call, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Premier Li Keqiang has also ordered immediate verification of the damage and all-out rescue and relief efforts.
He asked state disaster relief authorities to send work teams as appropriate to guide local quake relief.
The China Earthquake Administration and Sichuan Provincial Earthquake Administration launched Grade II emergency response and sent work teams to Kangding. Power facilities, tents and quilts have also been sent to the quake-hit areas.
Sichuan, neighbouring the Tibet Autonomous Region, is a mountainous and quake-prone area.
A massive 8.0-magnitude earthquake struck Wenchuan of the province on May 12, 2008 and left more than 80,000 people dead.
Another 196 people were killed in the 7.0-magnitude quake that hit Lushan in April last year.