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1,300 rescuers reach epicenter in SW China
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Some 1,300 rescue and relief troops arrived for the first time at Wenchuan County, the epicenter of Monday's major quake, and started operations in rain.

The military doctors and soldiers have started to search for survivors and treat injured people at the Yinxiu County of Wenchuan, 20 kilometers from Dujiangyan city.

The road from Dujiangyan, a city northwest of the provincial capital Chengdu, to Wenchuan, the epicenter, was blocked by rocks and mud slides, holding up rescue, medical and other disaster relief teams.

Tuesday morning, Premier Wen Jiabao ordered to remove barriers and open up roads to epicenter before 12:00 p.m. Tuesday after a strong earthquake jolted southwest China's Sichuan Province Monday afternoon.

Soldiers from the Chengdu Military Command have chosen to walk to the areas with heaviest damage inflicted by the quake last night.

About 700 soldiers will soon arrive at Maoxian County and another 3,000 will arrive at Wenchuan County, according to sources with the Chengdu Military Command.

At 4:00 a.m. Tuesday, a 85-member medical team from the Aba military region have arrived at Lixian County after six hour walk of 32 kilometers.

About 2,000 troops of the air force of the Chengdu Military Command have arrived in Dujiangyan and Pengzhou to rescue survivors Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, another 3,000 are standby to await order of departure. The air force also opened its airport when the civilian ones closed. By now 22 planes with emergency commodities have landed or taken off from the military airports.

The 7.8-magnitude quake, which occurred in Wenchuan Monday afternoon. A total of 9,219 people were be killed in eight affected provinces and municipality including Sichuan, Gansu, Shaanxi, Chongqing, Yunnan, Shanxi, Guizhou and Hubei, the ministry of civil affairs said in a release issued at 7:00 a.m.

(Xinhua News Agency May 13, 2008)

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