Chinese military personnel search for missing victims following a landslide
Chinese military personnel search for missing victims following a landslide in in southwestern China. AFP

Rescuers raced Tuesday to find dozens of people still trapped after a landslide struck a remote and mountainous part of southwestern China, killing 11.

The pre-dawn landslide buried 18 homes and sparked the evacuation of more than 200 people when it struck in Zhenxiong County, Yunnan province early Monday.

State news agency Xinhua said rescue workers are now in a "race against time" to find those missing after a night of sub-zero temperatures.

"Search and rescue efforts persisted through the night," firefighter Li Shenglong told Xinhua.

The agency quoted Wu Junyao, director of the natural resources and planning bureau of Zhaotong, as saying the disaster "resulted from a collapse in the steep cliff area atop the slope".

Two hundred rescue workers have been dispatched to the scene as well as dozens of fire engines and other equipment.

The rescue site is covered in thick snow and rescuers are "using all kinds of tools to search for survivors", Xinhua reported.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered "all-out" rescue efforts.

Landslides are common in Yunnan, a far-flung and largely impoverished region of China where steep mountain ranges butt against the Himalayan plateau.

Monday's disaster occurred in a rural area surrounded by towering peaks dusted with snow, state media footage showed.

There was no immediate official explanation for what may have caused the landslide.

Efforts to establish what happened are underway, Xinhua reported.

China has experienced a string of natural disasters in recent months, some following extreme weather events such as sudden, heavy downpours.

Rainstorms last September in the southern region of Guangxi triggered a mountain landslide that killed at least seven people, according to media reports.

In August, heavy rains sparked a similar disaster near the northern city of Xi'an, killing more than 20 people.