But she said national officials should be better prepared for disasters following a quake in Sichuan last year that left almost 90,000 people dead or missing.

The authorities said they were sending 4,500 tents, 3,000 quilts and other relief materials to Yao'an along with hundreds of policemen.

The US Geological Survey said the a 5.7 magnitude quake struck at 7:19pm (11:19 GMT) on Thursday at a depth of 10km and was centred 98km east-northeast of the city of Dali.

Yunnan is a quake-prone, mountainous region that lies on China's southern border with Thailand and Myanmar.

It also borders Sichuan province, which was devastated by the magnitude-7.9 quake last year.