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Sichuan quake death toll rises to nearly 10,000
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The Aba prefecture has pledged to restore the damaged roads and communication networks soon "by every possible means", according to a separate statement posted on its official website.

Premier Wen Jiabao, who is in the City of Dujiangyan, about 100 km from the epicenter, has asked relief military personnel waiting in the city to enter the area as soon as possible even if they have to walk to Wenchuan.

"Road access to Wenchuan County, which is key to our disaster relief work, must be made at all cost. Water and power supplies and telecommunication in quake-hit areas should be restored as soon as possible," the premier demanded.

Li Chongxi, deputy secretary of Sichuan Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, led a rescue team to Wenchuan, but was stranded at Dujiangyan City.

"We are doing everything we can, but the roads are blanketed with rocks and boulders," Li said.

Altogether 59 people have been killed in the quake in the Aba prefecture, and 680 others injured, 67 severely, the statement said.

The powerful tremor was also strongly felt in many other parts of the country, including Beijing, Shanghai and Tibet.

In regions neighboring Sichuan, 85 were killed in Shaanxi Province, 48 in Gansu Province, 50 in Chongqing Municipality, one in Yunnan Province and one in Henan Province.

The quake was the worst to strike China since the Tangshan earthquake in north China's Hebei Province in 1976, which claimed 242,000 lives.

Juyuan Middle School: 900 students buried, over 60 confirmed dead

As of 3 a.m. on Tuesday, rescuers had recovered more than 60 bodies from the debris of a high school building that collapsed and buried almost 900 students in Monday's earthquake in southwest China.

The tragedy occurred at around 2:30 p.m. at Juyuan Middle School in Juyuan Township of Dujiangyan City, Sichuan Province, about 100 kilometers from the epicenter in Wenchuan County.

Teachers and students of 24 classes were having classes then and most of them were buried in ruins, a teacher who only gave her surname as Cai told Xinhua.

Cai said the collapsed six-story building is home to the classrooms of the 8th- and 9th-graders.

Premier Wen Jiabao, who arrived in the provincial capital Chengdu by plane on Monday evening, visited the school site on Monday night.

Wen told the devastated parents, who were waiting for the news on their children in rain that the government would never give up rescue effort so long as there was hope for the trapped to survive.

"More than 1,000 people are participating rescue operation at the site now, and later, another 1,400 professional rescuers will arrive for help," said Wen.

"Some of the trapped still have chance to survive and we will go all out to rescue them," he said.

Rescuers told Xinhua they could still hear some buried students calling for help. Eight excavators and five cranes were brought in for rescue work and an ambulance waited.

"Dozens of rescued students have been sent to hospital," said a rescuer.

The collapse site was isolated by security line. On a black board erected at the school playground wrote the 28 names of the identified victims. Some 20 students, lowering their head in tears, stood quietly hand in hand nearby.

"We want to hold a vigil for the schoolmates passed away," said a student who declined to give his name.

A tearful mother said her son, 9th-grader Zhang Chengwei, was buried in the ruins.

Two girls said they escaped because they had "run faster than others".

"It was around 2:30 pm, and the building suddenly began to rock back and forth," one of them said.

"We ran out of the house when the quake hit," said Gao Shangyuan, a villager who lives close to the school and helped with the rescue work.

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