The quake was centred in the mountains north-west of Chengdu.
Nick Mackie was one of the first foreign journalists to reach the Yinchangguo region, close to the epicentre.
He says the popular tourist region was devastated first by the earthquake and then by massive landslides that swept away villages and buried hotels, guest houses and farmers' home stays.
An unknown number of villagers and tourists lie under the rocks and mud, he says.
Although across the region a few survivors are still being pulled from beneath collapsed buildings, the rescue effort has now focused on providing food, shelter and drinking water for the millions of people affected by the earthquake.
The foreign ministry appealed on Monday to the international community to provide tents for the more than 4.5m people whose homes have been destroyed.
To help raise money for the long-term relief effort, the government is to sell special stamps starting next month. Thirteen million of the stamps, featuring three interlocking hearts on a red background, will be sold, potentially raising as much as $4m (£2m).
The government said $1.5bn had been donated for disaster relief.
Persistent rain is compounding the misery for the homeless.
And the weather may deteriorate, with rains turning torrential later in the week, potentially triggering more landslides, Chinese forecasters said.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.