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Sichuan quake death toll rises to nearly 10,000
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Gao and other villagers helped dozens of students out of the ruins. "Some had jumped out of the window and a few others ran down the stairs that did not collapse."

In addition, an unknown number of students were also reported buried after buildings collapsed at five other schools in the province's Deyang City, where a quake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale occurred at 2:21 p.m. on Monday, according to the Sichuan provincial seismological bureau.

Local government officials are assessing the situation and rescuers are searching for the trapped students.

Deyang is about 58 kilometers from the provincial capital of Chengdu. Communications and the electricity supply in the quake-affected areas were cut after the quake.

Sichuan provincial education authorities have required schools and kindergartens in the quake-hit areas to close from Tuesday till further notice.

The quake, which measured 7.8 on the Richter scale and was felt in much part of the country, has killed more than 8,700 nationwide by Monday night.

Quake-hit city in dire need of food, water and tents

Residents of Mianzhu, one of the worst-hit cities in Monday's quakes in southwest China, were in dire need of food, drinking water and tents.

Xinhua reporters arrived at the Mianzhu at 2:50 a.m. on Tuesday. The city, less than 70 kilometers away from the quake epicenter of Wenchuan County, Sichuan Province, was shrouded in darkness as its electricity supply was cut after the quake.

Mianzhu had been hit by a minor quake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale, before being affected in a stronger 7.8-magnitude quake which stroke Wenchuan at 2:28 p.m. on Monday, according to the Sichuan provincial seismological bureau.

Xinhua reporters saw many buildings collapsed along the streets. Some residents spent their nights huddling in cars, but many more gathered in streets and squares despite drizzles.

At the Wenhua Square in downtown city, some people were staying in simple shelters roofed with plastic cloths or beach umbrellas, and some were standing in rain holding umbrellas.

Many said that they had had nothing after lunch and it was hard to get drinking water now.

"We need help. We need food, water and tents," said a man who only gave his surname Feng. "We hope the government can send us food and water as soon as possible and help us to deal with the dead and the injured."

The number of the casualties in Mianzhu is not yet available, although some residents said they had witnessed hundreds of bodies piled in a square. The provincial death toll was over 8,500, local authorities said.

Xinhua reporters are also on their way to Beichuan, in which officials said 80 percent of the houses collapsed, and the estimated death toll was above 3,000.

Villagers, cars buried by debris, whole town leveled in quake

Violent shakes have leveled a remote town, and people and cars have been buried by debris after a major earthquake rocked Sichuan Province in southwest China on Monday, according to eyewitnesses.

A man who works in Chengdu told Xinhua that his hometown in Shazhou Township in the northern border of Sichuan was almost flattened. He had spoken to his father, who is in Shazhou, over the phone.

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