A string of earthquakes shook southwestern China today, killing at least 50 people and injuring 150 more. At least 100,000 have been forced to evacuate, and more than 20,000 homes have been destroyed, the BBC says, based on Chinese state-run media reports. The quakes hit the mountainous region between Yunnan and Guizhou provinces, setting off landslides. The strongest two quakes in the series both clocked in at about 5.6 on the Richter scale.
That may not sound especially strong, but structures in China's less-developed corners tend to be shoddily built, making them especially vulnerable, Reuters explains. Some homes are built out of nothing but mud and timber, though it is at least easier to rescue people from under such buildings, Red Cross workers say. "The hardest part of the rescue now is traffic," says one local government official. "Roads are blocked and rescuers have to climb the mountains to reach hard-hit villages." (Read more earthquake stories.)