January 1997: 6.4 quake in Xinjiang - 50 dead, 40 hurt
In Chengdu, residents streamed on to the streets, cracks were reported in some buildings and water pipes burst.
"Some building are cracked, but nothing major, from what we can see in the area near our hotel," Gilles Barbier in Chengdu told the BBC News website.
"The quake was really strong, continuous. Two aftershocks could be felt."
Workers in Beijing - about 930 miles from Chengdu - said buildings shook for about two minutes and many were evacuated.
In the city's financial district, people poured out of buildings, but there were no visible signs of damage.
Tremors were also felt as far afield as the Thai capital, Bangkok, and Hanoi in Vietnam.
One student fainted as schools were evacuated across Sichuan province
Bobby Silby in Zhengzhou in Henan province said he was having lunch in a restaurant when he felt the tremors.
"It felt like the floor was moving all around me, everyone started running outside in a panic," he told the BBC news website. "The streets are still filled with people who haven't gone back into their buildings."
Telephone lines to the affected areas were jammed.
The area where Monday's earthquake struck lies on the eastern edge of the Tibetan plateau.
Wenchuan county is home to the Wolong Nature Reserve, China's leading research and breeding base for endangered giant pandas.
Earthquakes are common in China - in March a 7.2 magnitude quake struck in western Xinjiang province, though the damage was limited.
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