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Sichuan quake death toll rises to nearly 10,000
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The death toll from Monday's earthquake in southwest China's Sichuan Province has climbed to nearly 10,000, according to the headquarters for disaster relief.

Rescue workers search for victims after an earthquake tore down a school building in Dujiangyan, southwest China's Sichuan Province on May 12, 2008. An earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale jolted nearby Wenchuan County at 14:28 Monday. [Xinhua]

The Ministry of Civil Affairs said in a release issued at 7:00 AM Tuesday that the death toll from the earthquake has climbed to 9,219.

The figure climbed from more than 8,500 provided earlier Monday night by local authorities.

The Sichuan provincial seismological bureau said more than 1,180 tremors up to six magnitude have been recorded as of 5:00 AM on Tuesday.

The government in Shifang City of Deyang City, where a major chemical leak happened after the quake, said about 600 people died, including 81 students. The government expected that as many as 2,300 people are still buried, including 920 students.

In Anxian County of Mianyang City, about 500 people died, and 85 percent of the houses in rural areas collapsed.

In another badly-hit city of Mianzhu, which is less than 50 kilometers away from the quake epicenter, more than 1,000 people were reported dead and another 5,000 were buried as of 11:30 p.m. on Monday, according to the local government.

Hanwang Township of Mianzhu, which is less than 30 kilometers away from Wenchuan and has a population of more than 60,000, suffered serious casualties though exact number is not available.

"A large number of houses along the main street at the township were leveled," a local resident Peng Jia told Xinhua.

Peng, a publicity official with the Hanwang-based Dongfang Steam Turbine Plant, said at least 200 students and teachers were buried after a building of the factory's adjunctive middle school collapsed.

The factory's 300-member rescue team has pulled out four students out of the debris, with only one alive, due to a lack of professional rescuers and equipments, said Peng.

Zheng Zemin, deputy secretary-general with the Mianzhu Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China, said the city is in desperate need of drinking water, food, medicines, tents and professional rescuers and equipments.

"We are facing great shortage of drinking water and food," said Zheng. "Water supply in the city was almost cut off and the underground water in some townships was contaminated."

"In downtown Mianzhu alone, more than 10,000 homeless had to stay overnight outdoors, and hospitals are full and tents are needed to accommodate the injured," He said.

"As a temporary measure, the bed sheets and window curtains in hospitals were split into pieces to be used as bandage," said Zhang Shouli, an official with the city health bureau.

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