At least one person is dead and six others injured after two earthquakes hit southwestern China on Wednesday, state media reported.

A shallow 6.1-magnitude quake hit a sparsely populated area in Sichuan province about 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of provincial capital Chengdu, state broadcaster CCTV said.

A bridge in Ya’an City in China’s Sichuan province. Photo: Wikicommons.

It was followed three minutes later by a second quake nearby of magnitude 4.5 that killed one person and injured six others, according to CCTV.

Authorities dispatched hundreds of people for a search and rescue operation and to treat the injured, the report said.

The China Earthquake Networks Center said the first quake, in Lushan county of Ya’an city, struck at a depth of 17 kilometres at about 5 pm.

The US Geological Survey said the quake registered a magnitude of 5.9 and was more shallow at a depth of 10 kilometres. 

It was felt in cities across Sichuan province, state media reported.

Sichuan authorities said some buildings had been damaged but there were no initial reports of any structures collapsing.

The mountainous province — a popular tourist destination home to China’s giant pandas — is an earthquake-prone area. 

A shallow quake on the border of Sichuan and neighbouring Yunnan province in January this year injured more than 20 people.

Last September three people were killed and dozens of others injured when another shallow quake damaged tens of thousands of homes.

A magnitude 8.0 quake in 2008 in Sichuan’s Wenchuan county cost tens of thousands of lives and caused enormous damage.

Among the dead were thousands of children killed when poorly constructed school buildings collapsed, though the government did not release an exact death toll as the issue took on a political dimension.

Support HKFP  |  Code of Ethics  |  Error/typo?  |  Contact Us  |  Newsletter  | Transparency & Annual Report

Support press freedom & help us surpass 1,000 monthly Patrons: 100% independent, governed by an ethics code & not-for-profit, Hong Kong Free Press is #PressingOn with impartial, award-winning, frontline coverage.

AFP is a global news agency delivering fast, in-depth coverage of the events shaping our world from wars and conflicts to politics, sports, entertainment and the latest breakthroughs in health, science and technology.