Sichuan 2008 earthquake china
Around 5 million residents of Sichuan province in western China were made homeless after a huge earthquake devastated the area in 2008Reuters

A strong earthquake has struck a rural mountain village in Sichuan, western China, killing a 70-year-old woman.

The quake also caused minor damages to buildings including cracks and toppled walls and reached a magnitude of 5.8 on the Richter scale – capable of causing major damage under certain conditions.

Tremors regularly hit western China but the Sichuan province is on high alert to quakes after a magnitude 7.9 earthquake in May 2008 left nearly 90,000 people dead and almost 5 million homeless.

Saturday's quake struck the town of Kangding at 4.55pm local time (8.55am GMT). Kangding is 2,000km (1,250 miles) southwest of Beijing.

CCTV video showed Kangding residents strolling the town's streets, looking up at the steep surrounding hillsides and talking on their cellphones.

A duty officer at the Kangding county government, who gave his surname as Xia to Associated Press, said the quake lasted only a few seconds, and that there had been no aftershocks but that an elderly woman has died after being struck by a falling windowpane.

The area is frequently struck by quakes, and Xia said strict construction standards require buildings to be able to withstand those of up to 8 in magnitude.

Wang Dan, a spokesman for the Kangding county government, said rescue teams had already been dispatched to the epicenter. He said the local electricity supply hadn't been knocked out, there were no disruptions to transport or communications, and there was no major damage to buildings in the town of Kangding, which has a population of 129,320 people, about 70% of them Tibetan.

Just to the south, in Yunnan province, 589 people were killed by a quake this past August. In 1970, a magnitude-7.7 earthquake in Yunnan killed at least 15,000 people, and a magnitude-7.1 quake there killed more than 1,400 in 1974.