< p class="sc-v64krj-0 knjbxw">The epicenter was detected in the Sichuan region of southwestern China.
At least 46 dead, roads blocked and homes “severely damaged”: A powerful earthquake hit a mountainous area in southwestern China on Monday, mobilizing thousands of rescue workers, state media said. /p>
The tremor was recorded at 12:52 p.m. local time in Sichuan province, the United States Institute of Geological Studies (USGS) said. , the world's reference body for earthquakes.
The epicenter is 39 kilometers from Luding township, according to Chinese public television CCTV, in an area which is not very densely populated.
The latest provisional toll, revised upwards in the evening, now reports at least 46 dead, according to national television, which also mentions 16 missing and 50 injured.
The previous death toll was over 30.
The tremor was also felt some 200 kilometers from the epicenter, in the provincial capital Chengdu, including 21 million people are currently confined to their homes due to an outbreak of COVID-19.
She was relatively strong, a Chengdu resident who declined to give her full name, Ms. Chen, told AFP.
Some of my neighbors in ground floor said they felt it very clearly, she added.
But since the city is on lockdown, people don't are not allowed to leave their residential compounds, she stressed.
Authorities did not report any damage in the provincial capital. Chengdu had extended the confinement of its inhabitants on Sunday after the discovery, in recent days, of hundreds of new positive cases of the coronavirus.
A video released by the agency showed ages swaying from the ceiling and swathes of fallen concrete buildings.
CCTV meanwhile showed footage of firefighters in orange gear clearing fallen rocks on a road and a blue sedan with its windshield shattered by a huge rock.
Faced with a toll that could still increase, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for everything to come to the aid of those affected by the disaster and minimize the human losses, reported Xinhua News.
School children during the evacuation in the city of Ya'an
Close to the epicenter, the city of Ya'an evokes damage at various levels in affected areas.
Houses were badly damaged and telecommunications were cut off in some places near the epicenter, the neighboring prefecture of Garze said, where 29 victims were counted.
More than 1,000 soldiers and army officers are mobilized, according to the Sichuan Seismological Bureau, which released footage of its engineers with laptops heading to the scene.
According to CCTV, local authorities have also dispatched several thousand rescue workers, firefighters, doctors or members of the People's Armed Police (gendarmes in charge of public security and mobilized during disasters).
Rescue workers hard at work
Authorities have transported thousands tents, blankets and folding beds in the affected areas to help people whose homes were damaged, CCTV reported.
A video released by the China Seismic Network Center shows boulders rolling down a hill in Luding Township and kicking up clouds of dust, with telephone lines flickering from the shaking.
The Center reported several aftershocks of less intensity after the first earthquake.
Sichuan, very mountainous, is known worldwide for its reserves of giant pandas. The province is regularly hit by earthquakes.
In June, a 6.1 magnitude earthquake had already shaken this region, killing at least four people and injuring dozens.
In May 2008, a very powerful earthquake of magnitude 7.9 left 87,000 dead or missing in Sichuan. The disaster had shaken the country.
Among the victims were thousands of students killed in the collapse of precariously constructed schools. Police at the time arrested activists who were trying to count the precise number of children who died in the disaster.