The 6.8 magnitude quake was Sichuan’s biggest since August 2017 when a magnitude 7.0 temblor hit the Aba region.
A magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck China’s Sichuan province, killing at least 21 people and shaking the capital Chengdu.
The epicentre was at Luding, the China Earthquake Networks Centre said, a town in the mountains about 226km (110 miles) southwest of Chengdu.
Some roads and homes near the epicentre were damaged by landslides on Monday, while communications were down in at least one area, according to state television.
No damage to dam and hydropower stations within 50km (31 miles) of the epicentre was reported.
Earthquakes are common in Sichuan, a southwestern province, especially in its western mountains, a tectonically active area along the eastern boundary of the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau.
Resident Jiang Danli said she hid under a desk for five minutes in her 31st floor apartment, while many of her neighbours rushed downstairs.
“There was a strong earthquake in June, but it wasn’t very scary. This time I was really scared, because I live on a high floor and the shaking made me dizzy,” Jiang said.
Laura Luo, who lives in Chengdu, a city of about 21 million people, was on her way back to her apartment block when she saw people in her neighbourhood rushing out of their high-rise homes in panic after getting earthquake warnings on their phones.
“There were many people who were so terrified they started crying,” she said.
When the shaking began, “all the dogs started barking. It was really quite scary”.
In Luding, the quake was so strong it was hard for some people to remain standing, while cracks appeared on some houses, according to state media China News Service.
Video clips posted on social media showed lights swinging while people rushed out of buildings into the streets.
A total of 39,000 people live within 20km (9 miles) of the epicentre and 1.55 million within 100km (48 miles), according to state television.
The quake was Sichuan’s biggest since August 2017, when one of magnitude 7.0 hit Aba prefecture.
The most powerful Sichuan earthquake on record was in May 2008, when a magnitude 8.0 quake centred in Wenchuan killed nearly 70,000 people and caused extensive damage.
Monday’s quake was also felt in the provinces of Yunnan, Shaanxi and Guizhou, hundreds of kilometres away, according to state media.
Samantha Yang, 23, a Chengdu resident and recent university graduate, said she just finished lunch and was in bed about to take a nap when she felt the quake.
“The building kept shaking, each time more severely than before,” Yang said. “Truly, this was the scariest one since the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake.”