At least 19 people died and 106 were injured in an earthquake which caused 1,400 houses to collapse in a mountainous region of southwestern China.

Xinhua news agency said Saturday another 38,000 buildings were damaged by the quake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale which shook Yanjin county in Yunnan province at 9:10 am (0110 GMT).

Most of the victims were crushed by collapsing buildings or falling rocks, officials said.

"Some were crushed inside their homes, others were killed by rocks falling from the mountains," a Yanjin county earthquake administration official told AFP by telephone.

Xinhua said the damage was spread across 13 townships, with residents evacuating from the worst-hit area of Dousha.

Yanjin's 350,000 residents are especially vulnerable to earthquakes as most live near hillsides, the agency said.

Local authorities sent money, 500 tents, 1,000 quilts and 500 blankets to the affected areas while several hundred workers had joined the rescue effort.

Power supply and communications had largely been restored by Saturday evening, Xinhua said.

The agency reported earlier that a team from the State Seismological Administration had left Beijing to help in assessing the damage and "maintaining social order".