The shaking triggered landslides that killed one of the victims and destroyed hundreds of homes along the border of Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, according to authorities.
Falling rocks from another landslide smashed into a tourist bus, killing the driver and injuring seven passengers.
“During the earthquake this morning, the swaying the county felt was relatively severe,” the official Xinhua news agency quoted Liao Wencai, deputy Communist party secretary of Deqin county, as saying.
The quake struck at 8:04 a.m. local time about 5 miles directly beneath the city of Benzilan, in Deqin county.
It occurred about 40 miles from Shangri-La county, which shares the same name as the fictional mountain paradise featured in James Hilton’s novel “Lost Horizon.” The area draws millions of visitors each year.
A magnitude 6.6 earthquake in Sichuan province earlier this year killed about 200 people.
It struck five years after almost 90,000 people were killed by a huge tremor in the same province.