Beijing - An earthquake hit southwest China on Wednesday, knocking down houses and forcing around 1,200 people to evacuate from near the site of a devastating quake which killed at least 70,000 people in May, state media said.

The quake, measuring five on the Richter scale, jolted western Yunnan province, south of mountainous Sichuan which took the brunt of the May 12 tremor.

Many homes collapsed in Sudian township, the epicenter, nearly 50 km (30 miles) from Yingjiang county seat, and several townships reported damage, but there were no reports of casualties, Xinhua said.

A strong earthquake rocked the Sichuan and Gansu province earlier this month, killing one person and injuring 23.

Chinese officials have warned of a tough reconstruction task for remote counties in Sichuan, which included housing millions of displaced and impoverished residents and rebuilding the local economy.

(Reporting by Nick Macfie; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)