Two earthquakes have struck in Yunnan and Guizhou provinces of southwest China killing 64 so far and destroying an estimated 20,000 homes.
The first quake struck at 11:19am and the second one 45 minutes later, both were shallow and registered 5.6 on the Richter scale.
As the number of dead climbed throughout the day, state media reported that Premier Wen Jiabao would travel to the area, as he has often done when disasters strike Chinese regions.
President Hu Jintao called for disaster relief to be dispatched to the area while attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in the Russian city of Vladivostok.
Most of the victims were from Yiliang county in Yunnan, near the epicenter of the quakes, which struck at a depth of about 9 km (5.6 miles) according to the USGS.
By mid-afternoon, authorities had moved more than 100,000 from the area as a series of more than 60 aftershocks struck. No deaths were reported in Guizhou province.