Rescuers work at a tourist site in Jiuzhaigou county in southwestern China’s Sichuan province after a strong earthquake struck.
Zheng Lei/AP

Rescue workers in China are still sifting through debris in the hunt for survivors of an earthquake that left at least 19 people dead and around 250 others injured in southwestern Sichuan province, according to China’s Xinhua news agency.

The quake struck in a mountainous area at 9:19 p.m. local time Tuesday, near the popular tourist destination of Jiuzhaigou — a national park known for its dazzling vistas of lakes, waterfalls and mountains.

It is peak tourist season there and a number of tourists were among the dead, Xinhua reports.

“The tourists were in panic when the quake struck and there were also stones falling down the mountain,” Ye Zhi, a villager in Zhangzha told the news agency.

Many of the roughly 38,000 tourists were evacuated from the area safely, NPR’s Anthony Kuhn reports from Beijing. He says that “some buildings in the area collapsed, and power and cell phone services were disrupted.”

Around 1,000 workers were involved in rescue and recovery efforts. And while fallen rocks and landslides have complicated efforts, Xinhua says most of the debris that had been blocking roads was cleared by Wednesday morning.

“I was getting into a car at the time of the quake and it felt like a heavy-duty truck rumbling past,” resident Liu Yanrong tells Xinhua.

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SOURCE: NPR, Amy Held

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