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Sichuan Quake Death Toll Rises to 8,533

The death toll from Monday's earthquake in southwest China's Sichuan Province has climbed to 8,533, according to local authorities.

The figure climbed from 7,651 provided earlier Monday night by the temporary headquarters for disaster relief headed by Premier Wen Jiabao in Sichuan.

Sources with the headquarters said casualties are being tallied in other areas affected by the massive quake, and detailed information is being collected on the damage.

The number of casualties is expected to rise as further destruction is reported. Authorities are yet to reach Wenchuan County, which sits at the epicenter of the earthquake with a population of about 112,000.

In Beichuan County, close to Wenchuan, the number of deaths is estimated at more than 3,000, as 80 percent of the buildings were destroyed by the quakes.

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.

Rescuers were clearing the debris to reach the quake-hit sites as quickly as possible, he said. Telecommunications links to the county had also been cut.

(Xinhua News Agency May 13, 2008)

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