Rescue efforts are underway after an earthquake in southwestern China that has left 12 people dead and 134 others injured.

The Yibin city press office said on its social media account that 73 houses had collapsed.

Medical staff tend to a wounded at a local hospital in the aftermath of an earthquake in Changning County of Yibin City, southwest China's Sichuan Province. Photo / AP
Medical staff tend to a wounded at a local hospital in the aftermath of an earthquake in Changning County of Yibin City, southwest China's Sichuan Province. Photo / AP

The magnitude 6.0 earthquake also collapsed a hotel in Changning county and damaged some roads, Xinhua said. Heavy rains were falling Tuesday morning.

The Ministry of Emergency Management sent firefighting crews and other rescue personnel, Xinhua said. The ministry and the National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration have dispatched 5,000 tents, 10,000 folding beds and 20,000 quilts to the quake-hit areas.

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The epicentre was 16km below the surface, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center. Shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage to buildings and infrastructure.

Rescue workers carry out a person from a collapsed building following a strong earthquake at Putao village of Shuanghe town in Yibin City, southwest China's Sichuan Province. Photo / AP
Rescue workers carry out a person from a collapsed building following a strong earthquake at Putao village of Shuanghe town in Yibin City, southwest China's Sichuan Province. Photo / AP

China's worst earthquake in recent years struck the mountainous western portion of Sichuan province in 2008, killing nearly 90,000 people. That earthquake was about 400 kilometers (250 miles) from Monday's quake.

A 1976 earthquake centered in the northeastern city of Tangshan killed at least 250,000 people.

- AP