BEIJING (AFP/Reuters) A strong earthquake toppled hundreds of homes and some schools in the remote mountainous Tibetan Plateau of southwest China on Wednesday, killing at least 589 people and injuring thousands. Hundreds of troops have been dispatched to Qinghai Provinces Yushu county and some aid shipments from private organisations have set off from the provincial capital, Xining. The survivors faced a cold night without shelter, as rescuers using their bare hands searched for survivors. Thousands were injured when the quake toppled mud-and-wood houses and school buildings in the northwestern province of Qinghai, but police managed to pull over 900 people alive from ruined buildings over the course of the day. Many more are believed buried and forecasters predict wind and sleet in coming days, while seismologists warned of further aftershocks, adding to the trauma of victims preparing for a night in the open in the high-altitude zone. The 6.9-magnitude quake, which hit at 7:49 am (2349 GMT Tuesday), was centred 380km southeast of the city of Golmud, at a depth of 46km, the US Geological Survey said. About 10,000 people were injured in the quake, which disrupted telecommunications, knocked out electricity, toppled temples and triggered landslides, hampering rescue efforts in the mountainous area. Three aftershocks rattled the lightly populated, high-altitude area near Tibet shortly after the quake, with magnitudes of up to 5.8, the USGS reported. Among the dead were children buried when the devastating quake rocked the predominantly Tibetan region earlier in the day, in scenes that brought back memories of a massive killer quake two years ago. Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama offered prayers for those who died while Pope Benedict XVI called for solidarity with the victims and nations including Germany, Japan and France voiced shock and offered help. State media spoke of panicked residents fleeing their homes while others hunted for loved-ones trapped in the ruins in Yushu prefecture, the epicentre of the latest disaster to strike the worlds most populous nation. President Hu Jintao called for all-out efforts to save as many people as possible, with over 5,000 rescuers including soldiers rushing to the disaster zone while the government said it would provide over 29 million dollars in aid. There are 10 people in my family and only four of us escaped. One of my relatives died. All the others are buried under the rubble, Samdrup Gyatso, 17, told Xinhua after his two-storey home crumbled. Zhuohuaxia, an official in Jiegu, seat of the Yushu government, reported a lack of tents, medicines and medical equipment for the survivors. The quake wreaked havoc on the flimsy earth and wood houses near the epicentre, which lies around 800km or at least 12 hours by road from the provincial capital. Among the casualties were children trapped under the rubble of at least one collapsed school in Jiegu, with Xinhua reporting that at least five pupils had died. The scene was reminiscent of the huge quake in May 2008 in Sichuan province, where thousands of children died when their shoddily-constructed schools fell on them - an issue that caused big controversy in China.