A series of earthquakes hit rural southwestern China on Friday, killing at least 43 people and damaging more than 20,000 homes, a government official said.

The quakes, which ranged from a magnitude of 4.8 to 5.6, struck hilly, agricultural areas of Yunnan and Guizhou provinces. The spokesman from the Yunnan seismological bureau, Zhang Junwei, said the deaths were in the worst-hit county of Yiliang in Yunnan.

Zhang said another 150 people were hurt.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the quake destroyed or damaged 20,000 homes. Buildings in rural areas in China are often constructed poorly. In 2008, a severe earthquake in Sichuan province, just north of Yunnan, killed nearly 90,000 people, with many of the deaths blamed on poorly built buildings, including schools.

Xinhua quoted an official with the Yunnan civil affairs department as saying more than 100,000 people had been evacuated in Yunnan.

Xinhua said the provincial government had sent work teams to the quake-hit area and the civil affairs department was shipping thousands of tents, blankets and coats to the area.

It said that so far no casualties had been reported in Guizhou, but that homes had been damaged or destroyed there.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 5.6 quake hit at a depth of 6.1 miles. Shallower earthquakes often cause more damage than deeper ones.