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China Quake Death Toll Rises to 11,921

The death toll from the Sichuan earthquake had risen to 11,921 as of 2:00 PM on Tuesday, according to the disaster relief headquarters headed by Premier Wen Jiabao.

In Sichuan alone, the toll was 11,608, according to a statement issued by the headquarters.

Rescue work started shortly after the quake but remains very difficult, said Zhang Hongwei, the spokesman of the China Seismological Bureau (CSB), at a press conference here.

Rescue teams sent by the CSB, Sichuan Province and Chongqing municipality have rescued 21 people, 22 people and 15 people respectively, Zhang said.

Meanwhile, armed police officers reached Wenchuan County, the epicenter of the quake, on foot and saved about 3,000 people, according to police.

The CSB has sent a 214-member rescue team, made up of 44 experts, seismologists and emergency rescuers, 22 medical workers and 148 engineers together with 12 search and rescue dogs, two rescue vehicles and an emergency command vehicle.

Besides the CSB team, several other rescue teams sent by provincial seismological departments are working on site.

Transportation blockages and the huge number of victims are the two major difficulties facing rescue and relief workers, said Wang Zhenyao, director of the disaster relief department under the Ministry of Civil Affairs, at the same press conference.

The highway linking Wenchuan to the outside world is still severed, he said.

(Xinhua News Agency May 13, 2008)

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