(Source: AFP)

The death toll from the 6.5 magnitude earthquake that struck the southwestern Sichuan province of China on Tuesday has risen to 19.

Twelve bodies, including two local residents and six tourists who were visiting the Juizhaigou National Park, the epicenter of the quake, have so far been identified.

The Juizhaigou Park, a 720-square kilometer mountainous UNESCO world heritage site known for its karst scenery and waterfalls, was closed when the quake struck at 9:19 p.m. local time (13:19 GMT).

Top-level national emergency response operations involving at least four helicopters, 90 vehicles, hundreds of soldiers, medical personnels and over 1200 rescuers are still ongoing to locate trapped or surviving victims of the quake whose tremors were felt in Beijing, more than 1,200 kilometres away.

As at the last count, more than 60,000 people, mostly tourists have been evacuated with vehicles while another 10,500 people have been relocated from damaged buildings to emergency shelters.