An elderly woman was rescued after spending more than two days buried under a building that collapsed during the massive earthquake that killed hundreds of people 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 the southern Yunnan province.

The event was described as a "miracle" by China's state television CCTV, that reported doctors said the woman was unhurt and her health fine.

Video footage showed rescue workers wearing orange jumpsuits, as they cut through two lawyers of concrete to get to Zhengfen.

She was then pulled out with the help of a rope and ferried away on a stretcher.

A bandage was placed on the woman's eyes to smoothen her return to sunlight after more than 50 hours.

Zhengfen's rescue came as a little comfort amid the devastation caused by the 6.1 magnitude earthquake that hit the area at the weekend.

Search and rescue workers clear debris from collapsed homes, found dozens more bodies, bringing the death toll up to 589.

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.