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Chinese President Arrives in Sichuan Quake Area

Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived in Mianyang, a city in quake-hit southwestern Sichuan Province, after more than two hours of flight from Beijing on Friday morning.

During the flight, Hu opened a map, and carefully assessed the quake damage and the progress of relief work with others aboard the plane.

Hu pointed out that after several days of endeavor, the relief work has been comprehensively launched and is proceeding in an "forceful, orderly and effective" way.

However, he said, "The challenge is still severe, the task is still arduous and the time is pressing."

Although the "golden relief time", which refers to the 72 hours after an earthquake occurs, has already passed, saving lives is still the top priority of our work."

At the same time, he said, "We need to make greater efforts in treating the injured, restoring the transportation, telecommunications and power supply infrastructure in quake-stricken areas and ensure basic living conditions for local residents."

Hu stressed, "Currently, quake relief work has entered into the most crucial phase. We must make every effort, race against time and overcome all difficulties to achieve the final victory of the relief efforts."

Hu, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), flew to the quake-hit area to console the victims and inspect the rescue and relief work.

Hu will also visit the troops and medical workers who are engaged in around-the-clock relief efforts in the quake areas.

As of 4 PM Thursday, the confirmed death toll in Sichuan alone was 19,509 and more than 50,000 people were feared dead.

(Xinhua News Agency May 16, 2008)

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