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Earthquake death toll rises to 22,069
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The death toll from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake in southwest China's Sichuan Province rose to 22,069 nationwide as of 2 PM Friday, while 168,669 people were injured, according to the emergency response office of the State Council.

Altogether 21,577 people were killed in Sichuan, close to 2,000 up from Thursday, and 159,006 injured.

In its neighbouring regions, 364 were killed in Gansu, 109 in Shaanxi, 15 in Chongqing, 2 in Henan, one in Yunnan, and one in Hubei.

A rescue headquarters headed by Premier Wen Jiabao under the State Council had said on Thursday that it feared total death toll of Monday's quake could top 50,000.

Nearly 100 hours after Monday's powerful quake, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen on Friday again urged continued efforts in quake rescue and relief work and giving top priority to the saving of people's lives.

A meeting held between the two Chinese top leaders said the previous relief work had been progressing orderly and effectively, which paved a smooth way for the following work.

In face of the pressing time, uttermost efforts must be made if only there exists the slimmest hope of survivors, the meeting said.

In the meantime, a total of 181,460 tents, 170,000 cotton-paded clothes and 220,000 quilts had been allocated by the Ministry of Civil Affairs for the quake-hit areas.

The ministry is planning to arrange adoptions of quake orphans, with the number of homeless children increasing and more concerned organizations and individuals proposing for adoption. The orphans are currently taken care of by local governments.

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