More than 110 people have died in an earthquake in northwest China

A massive earthquake rocked a mountainous region of northwest China just before midnight on Monday, collapsing buildings as people slept.

At least 116 people were killed and 300 injured on Tuesday morning after the 6.2-magnitude earthquake, state media reports said.

The death toll is expected to rise as a frantic rescue effort continues Tuesday in freezing temperatures in Zhishan County, near the border between Gansu and Qinghai provinces.

Chinese state media released video of firefighters digging through debris in search of survivors, warning that extreme cold and high terrain make finding people difficult.

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China’s powerful leader, Xi Jinping, on Tuesday morning called for an all-out search and rescue effort and urged vigilance against “secondary disasters” from changing weather or the aftermath.

Infrastructure including water, electricity and communication and transport networks were also damaged, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Gansu and Qinghai, on the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau, are China’s poorest and most ethnically diverse regions.

Almost all Bonan people, who are mostly Muslim and one of China’s least populated minority groups, live in Jizhishan, located 6,500 feet above sea level.

The county’s median disposable income is $2,600 a year, or about half the national average.

The scenes of devastation are reminiscent of an even deadlier earthquake in Sichuan province in 2008 that killed nearly 90,000 people.

Natural disasters often become flashpoints for public concerns about official failures. For many, they are a reminder that the country’s least affluent still live in harsh conditions and cheaply built housing.

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Houses made of bricks and wooden beams in Gansu villages near the epicenter of Monday’s earthquake. Almost completely flatState media reported.

The quake coincided with a cold snap and low temperatures that have already closed highways across much of northern China.

After fleeing their shelters, students from a middle school in Zhishan piled their schoolbooks together and burned them to protect them from the 7-degree Fahrenheit night. videos on Chinese social media.

Pei-Lin Wu and Vic Chiang in Taipei, Taiwan contributed to this report.

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