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President: top priority for quake relief
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Chinese leader Hu Jintao urged governments at all levels to regard earthquake rescue and relief as the top priority at a high profile meeting late Monday evening.

Hu, state President and General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), presided over the meeting of the Political Bureau Standing Committee of the Central Committee of the CPC. The meeting called on the army, armed police and paramilitary forces, as well as medical personnel to go to the quake-hit areas as soon as possible, and mount all-out efforts to save the injured and reduce the impact caused by the havoc.

Monday's quake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale jolted Wenchuan County, Sichuan Province in southwest China at 2:28 p.m., resulting in nearly 9,000 deaths reported so far. Tremors were also reported in over half of China's provinces and municipalities, according to the China Seismological Bureau.

The meeting demanded sufficient supply of food, medicine, clothes and tents to the quake-hit areas and that telecommunication, power and water supplies and transportation access must be restored as soon as possible.

Local governments should keep a close watch on the latest development of the earthquake and its aftershocks, and guard against earthquake-induced disasters causing new casualties.

Those who spread rumors to sabotage disaster relief work would be dealt with according to China's laws and regulations.

The meeting decided to set up a disaster relief headquarters with Premier Wen Jiabao as head, and Li Keqiang and Hui Liangyu, both vice premiers, as deputy heads.

The meeting called on all party members in the quake-hit areas to devote themselves to protect the interests of the public on the front line of disaster relief work.

(Xinhua News Agency May 13, 2008)

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