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Sichuan quake deaths could top 50,000
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More than 50,000 people are feared dead in southwest China's Sichuan Province alone after Monday's earthquake, the rescue headquarters of the State Council said Thursday.

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Wenchuan County, about 159 km northwest of the provincial capital of Chengdu, has severely affected an area of more than 100,000 square km, according to the rescue headquarters headed by Premier Wen Jiabao.

The confirmed death toll in Sichuan was 19,509 by 4 PM Thursday, up by 5,046 from Wednesday's 14,463, Li Chengyun, vice provincial governor of Sichuan told a press conference.

Another 102,103 people were injured and 12,323 buried in the rubble, he said.

Rescuers have pulled 13,465 people alive out of the debris, he said.

The Sichuan provincial government has handed over 670 million yuan (US$95.7 million) for disaster relief efforts to quake-hit areas, he added.

It was the worst earthquake to strike China since the Tangshan earthquake in northern Hebei Province in 1976, which claimed 242,000 lives.

The tremors were also felt in most parts of the country.

In regions neighboring Sichuan, 280 were killed in Gansu Province, 106 in Shaanxi Province, 14 in Chongqing Municipality, two in Henan Province, one in Yunnan Province and one in Hubei Province.

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