An elderly woman has been rescued after spending more than two days buried under a building that collapsed during an earthquake in China.

Xiong Zhengfen, 88, was pulled from the rubble at the end of a six-hour operation to save her in the village of Babao, in Yunnan province.

Rescue workers cut through two layers of concrete to get to her and then pulled her out with the help of a rope. A bandage was placed over her eyes protect them from sunlight after more than 50 hours in the dark.

Xiong Zhengfen, 88, is rescued after being buried underneath earthquake debris for more than 50 hours
Xiong Zhengfen, 88, is rescued after being buried underneath earthquake debris for more than 50 hours(Getty)
Xiong Zhengfen, 88, is cared for after being rescued from underneath debris in Zhaotong
Xiong Zhengfen, 88, is cared for after being rescued from underneath debris in Zhaotong(Getty)

The death toll has jumped from 410 to 589 as search and rescue teams found more bodies while pushing into isolated mountain communities.

Some 10,000 troops and hundreds of volunteers have tried to clear roads and dig out survivors, but landslides and heavy rains have complicated efforts.

The quake struck an area of steep hills and narrow roads that are not well suited to all the traffic of the massive relief effort. Landslides have shorn shear rocky faces into the region's valleys and piled earth on roads.

A landslide occurs over a hydro-electric power station in the earthquake zone. The earthquake has triggered landslides that have blocked rivers and created rapidly growing bodies of water that could unleash more destruction on survivors of the disaster.
A landslide occurs over a hydro-electric power station in the earthquake zone. The earthquake has triggered landslides that have blocked rivers and created rapidly growing bodies of water that could unleash more destruction on survivors of the disaster.(Reuters)
Rescue workers walk along a collapsed road at an earthquake-hit area in Ludian county
Rescue workers walk along a collapsed road at an earthquake-hit area in Ludian countyGetty

The epicentre of the quake was 12km deep in Longtoushan Township, 23km from Zhaotong City, the county seat of Ludian County.

More than 2,400 people were injured and some 12,000 homes and a school collapsed due to the tremor — the country's deadliest earthquake in four years.

Rescue workers unearth the body of a victim from the debris of collapsed houses in Longtoushan
Rescue workers unearth the body of a victim from the debris of collapsed houses in Longtoushan(Reuters)
A severely injured person is carried through a window onto a train heading to Kunming to receive better medical treatment
A severely injured person is carried through a window onto a train heading to Kunming to receive better medical treatment(Reuters)
A woman cries over a photo album surrounded by the debris of her house
A woman cries over a photo album surrounded by the debris of her house(Reuters)
A rescue worker tries to help his colleague to get out from under the debris of a house
A rescue worker tries to help his colleague to get out from under the debris of a house(Reuters)
Rescue workers check for victims buried under debris in Ludian county
Rescue workers check for victims buried under debris in Ludian county(Reuters)
An injured woman is carried down a mountain on a ladder
An injured woman is carried down a mountain on a ladder(Reuters)
An injured child wakes up at a hospital in Ludian county
An injured child wakes up at a hospital in Ludian county(Reuters)
A man walks past a crushed vehicle in Ludian county
A man walks past a crushed vehicle in Ludian county(Reuters)
Mao Changxue changes his son's clothes after the boy's body was dug out from the debris of their home after an earthquake in Longtoushan town, Ludian county, Yunnan province, China
Mao Changxue changes his son's clothes after the boy's body was dug out from the debris of their home after an earthquake in Longtoushan town, Ludian county, Yunnan province, China(Reuters)
A child cuddling a cat rests under a shelter at the earthquake zone in Ludian county, Zhaotong, Yunnan province, China
A child cuddling a cat rests under a shelter at the earthquake zone in Ludian county, Zhaotong, Yunnan province, China(Reuters)
A tame rabbit searches for food in the ruins of a collapsed house in Longtoushan in China's southwest Yunnan province after an earthquake
A tame rabbit searches for food in the ruins of a collapsed house in Longtoushan in China's southwest Yunnan province after an earthquake(AFP)