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Over 16,000 Soldiers Join in Disaster Relief After Sichuan Quake

As of 6:30 AM on Tuesday, 16,760 Chinese soldiers have joined in disaster relief efforts after a major earthquake jolted southwest China's Sichuan Province Monday afternoon.

China will also send 20 military planes to transport armed forces and armed police to the quake-hit areas, according to the military emergency response office on Tuesday.

Additional 34,000 armed forces from the Jinan and Chengdu military commands are advancing towards the disaster-hit regions by planes, trains, and trucks, and on foot.

A rescue team composed of 227 military medical staffs and seismologists arrived in Dujiangyan City, northwest of Sichuan's capital Chengdu earlier Tuesday morning.

The epicenter of the quake, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, is located 31 degrees north latitude and 103.4 degrees east longitude.

The road from Dujiangyan, a city northwest of the provincial capital Chengdu, to Wenchuan, the epicenter, was blocked by rocks and mud slides, holding up rescue, medical and other disaster relief teams, a witness said via mobile phone.

Premier Wen Jiabao asked military personnel waiting in the city to enter into the area as soon as possible even if they had to walk to Wenchuan.

The earlier the troops arrived, the more lives they could save, he said.

(Xinhua News Agency May 13, 2008)

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