to Xinhua news agency, the largest of a series of earthquakes registered 5.7 on the Richter scale with the largest tremor striking the area at a depth of 14 kilometers.
80 people are dead as a result of the quakes and 700 others have been injured.
The first quake registered 5.6-magnitude, along the borders of Guizhou and Yunnan provinces. A second, equally large earthquake struck shortly afterwards, followed by 60 aftershocks.
Although the earthquakes are relatively small, the depths were shallow, causing more damage.
Rescuers are being prevented from reaching the outlying areas due to damage caused and communications have been disrupted.
to Yunnan province government agencies, the worst hit in the region was Yiliang County, where 49 or the 50 deaths occurred.
Zhang Junwei, a spokesman for the provincial seismology bureau, told state media that another 150 people in the county have been injured.
Peng Zhuwen, a miner in Luozehe, a town in the area, told Xinhua, "It is scary. My brother was killed by falling rocks. The aftershocks struck again and again. We are so afraid."
An unnamed government official in Jiaokui town told the media that a large number of houses had collapsed due to the quake. He said, "The casualty number is still being compiled. I don't know what was like for the other towns, but my town got hit badly."
With some roads impassable, rescuers had yet to reach some outlying villages and towns, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Thousands of tents, blankets and coats are being shipped to the area.
Update September 8
: At least 80 people are dead as a result of the quakes and 700 others have been injured.