The earthquake caused 12,000 home to collapse and damaged up to 30,000 in Lodian, a densely populated county around 277 miles northeast of Yunnan's capital, Xinhua News Agency reports.
Of the homes that collapsed in the county, many of them were made of brick and very old, reports the Associated Press. Xinhua also reported that electricity and telecommunications to the county were cut off, as a result of the earthquake.
A resident of the city of Zhaotong, Ma Liya, told Xinhua that the streets were like "battlefield after bombardment."
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Austin Hunt is a curation editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.