A powerful 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck a remote, mountainous part of southwest China, killing at least 19 people and injuring almost 250 people.
The earthquake hit a small area 120 miles northwest of the city of Guangyuan late Tuesday night, Reuters reported. The area is close to the Jiuzhaigou nature reserve, a popular tourist destination in the country listed as a world heritage site by Unesco, a U.N. educational and cultural unit.
The province of Sichuan, where the earthquake hit, is often being struck by quakes. Back in 2008, a powerful earthquake killed nearly 70,000 people.
According to the Sichuan government, tourists were evacuated and residents had been cut off by landslides. Around 45,000 tourists left the area with just 1,000 still waiting to be evacuated.
Of the 19 people reported killed, eight were thought to be tourists, two local residents and nine were not yet identified, Reuters reported. Another 247 people were injured, 40 of them seriously.
A separate earthquake also hit the remote area of XinJiang, injuring 32 people, the BBC reported.
Chinese state media claim some tourists were camping out at Jiuzhaigou airport, awaiting flights to their home countries. The airports remained open despite the powerful quakes.
One tourist with a young daughter said he was in a hotel when the disaster struck, Reuters reported.
“The walls and floor shook. Some things fell off the table,” he said.
“The rescue services showed up quickly and gave us water and things to eat,” the man said, adding that he was evacuated as a priority because of his young daughter.
“At first the road was blocked, but they had cleared a lane this morning for ambulances.”
State media said electricity had been restored in the struck area and the Chinese government was sending out rescuers.
This story includes reporting from the Associated Press.