A strong earthquake (search) rumbled through southwest China on Tuesday, killing three people and injuring another 200, the national seismological bureau said.

The magnitude-5.6 quake struck at 6:26 p.m. and was centered in Ludian, a county in Yunnan province (search), the official Xinhua News Agency said.

There were many residents in the area although the number of dead and injured and the extent of damage was not immediately clear, said Sun Xiong, a seismologist at the bureau.

"We have three dead and about 200 injured now, but the numbers may grow as we get more information at the site," Sun said.

In December, a magnitude-5.0 temblor struck a remote area in Yunnan's southwest, injuring 20 people and knocking down two-thirds of the houses in an impoverished county. A magnitude-6.2 tremor in July killed 16 people in the province.