updated 7/22/2006 1:07:21 AM ET 2006-07-22T05:07:21

A magnitude-5.1 earthquake hit a mountainous area in southwestern China on Saturday, killing at least 17 people and injuring dozens, a government official said.

The earthquake struck at 9:10 am (0110 GMT) and toppled at least 56 houses and sent large rocks tumbling down onto residential areas in and around Yunnan province's Yanjin county, about 90 kilometers (55 miles) from Zhaotong city, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

An official with the Zhaotong Seismological Bureau said that 14 people were killed in Yanjin and another three were reported dead in nearby Daguan county.

The official, who would only give his surname, Shen, said that the injured were still being counted but that the figure was likely to be higher than the 41 reported by Xinhua.

Shen said the quake also damaged local railroad tracks, forcing officials to shut down service between Sichuan's Neijiang city and Yunnan's capital of Kunming.

Yanjin has a population of about 350,000, Xinhua said. Many of the injured had been hospitalized and additional rescue teams were headed to the area, it said.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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