BEIJING – THE death toll from a strong earthquake in the mountainous Tibetan plateau in southwestern China has reached about 300, with more than 8,000 injured, state television reported on Wednesday, quoting a government official.

China Central Television said the toll from Wednesday’s earthquake had risen as rescue workers struggled to dig trapped people out in Qinghai province.

The US Geological Survey said the quake measured a magnitude of 6.9.

Rescue efforts were hindered by telecommunications problems, with phone lines down. Many houses have collapsed, roads have been damaged or blocked by landslides and telecommunications have been disrupted, local officials said after the quake.

Officials said many others were injured by the quake, which wreaked havoc on the flimsy earth and wood houses near the epicentre in the high-altitude area of Qinghai province on the border with Tibet. ‘The injured are everywhere in the street, a lot of people are bleeding from head wounds,’ state Xinhua news agency quoted a local official, identified as Zhuohuaxia, as saying.

He said more than 85 per cent of houses had collapsed in the town of Jiegu, located near the quake’s epicentre. Rescue teams and equipment were being rushed to the area, Xinhua said, but noted they could be hampered by the infrastructure damage.

300 dead in Qinghai quake