Death toll rises to 10,000 in Sichuan earthquake

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May 13, 2008

The deadly earthquake that rocked southwestern China and felt all across the country and beyond, has killed more than 10,000 people by early Tuesday, and the death toll is expected to climb as rescue efforts are intensifying.

The 7.8-magnitude tremor devastated a region of small cities and towns set amid steep and forestry hills northwestern of Sichuan provincial capital of Chengdu. Striking in mid-afternoon on Monday, it emptied office buildings across the country in Beijing and Shanghai and could be felt as far away as Vietnam and Thailand.

The killer quake toppled buildings, schools and chemical plants, trapping unknown numbers in mounds of concrete, steel, wooden frames, bricks and earth in China's worst earthquake in three decades.

Roads to Wenchuan County, epicenter of the quake, were blocked by fallen rocks and debris. PLA army are sending heavy machinery to clear the roads. Sichuan provincial officials said more than one third of the buildings and houses in Wenchuan were leveled off. The casualties there remain unknown.

early report from ChinaDaily:

The deadly earthquake that rocked Southwestern China and felt all across China and beyond, could possibly left more than 3,000 people dead, and the death toll is expected to climb as rescue efforts are intensifying.

China's state-run news agency Xinhua said in a news flash that said between 3,000 to 5,000 people are feared dead in Sichuan Province's Beichuan Country, which nears the epicenter of Wenchuan County. Wenchuan lies about 145 kilometres west of Chengdu, the densely populated provincial capital.

Earlier, Xinhua quoted China's Ministry of Civil Affairs as saying the strong tremor killed at least 107 people in Sichuan's Chengdu, neighboring Chongqing, Gansu and Yunnan provinces. And, up to 900 teenagers were trapped as their middle school buildings in Dujiangyan, suburban Chengdu, partly collapsed. Rescuers are seen in TV footage using cranes to move away cement and steel structures.

China's state seimological administration reported the earthquake hit Sichuan Province at 2:28 pm Beijing Time May 12, at a destructive scale of 7.8 on the Richter calculations. The U.S. Geologocial Survey said on its website that the epicentre lies 29 kilometres below the surface, and at a scale of 7.5.

With a population of 111,800, Wenchuan lies in southeast part of the Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba, 146 km to the northwest of Chengdu, provincial capital of Sichuan. Wenchuan is home to the Wolong Nature Reserve, China's leading research and breeding base of the endangered giant pandas.

>> Sichuan Map

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