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Wenchuan Earthquake: China races against time as death toll nears 10,000

Rescuers are racing against time to reach survivors a day after the strongest quake that hit China in more than three decades jolted the southwestern province of Sichuan. The country was immersed in immense grief as the death toll rose to nearly 10,000. China’s English-language newspaper China Daily silhouetted the front page in black to mourn the victims. The headline reads: ‘The Day the Earth Moved.’ Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who flew to Sichuan Monday evening, urged ‘calm, confidence and courage‘ in face of the catastrophe. Wenchuan County, the epicenter of the earthquake at western Sichuan province, has reported 57 confirmed deaths, and about 60,000 locals were still out of reach…

Rescuers are racing against time to reach survivors a day after the strongest quake that hit China in more than three decades jolted the southwestern province of Sichuan.

The country was immersed in immense grief as the death toll rose to nearly 10,000. China’s English-language newspaper China Daily silhouetted the front page in black to mourn the victims. The headline reads: “The Day the Earth Moved.”

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who flew to Sichuan Monday evening, urged “calm, confidence and courage” in face of the catastrophe.

By 7:00 a.m. Tuesday, the death toll from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake has climbed to 9,219, according to the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs. Of the killed, 8,993 were in Sichuan.

Wenchuan County, the epicenter of the earthquake at western Sichuan province, has reported 57 confirmed deaths, and about 60,000 locals were still out of reach.

“I am so worried! I am so worried!” said He Biao, a government official with the Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba, Sichuan Province, exclaimed to Xinhua over phone in an anxious tone. Wenchuan is part of the prefecture.

Wenchuan and neighboring areas were set amid steep hills north of Sichuan’s provincial capital Chengdu. Attempts to reach the epicenter “via land, air and water were all thwarted”, said an official with the Sichuan provincial relief headquarters, citing blocked transport, disrupted telecom and rainy weather as the key factors to hold back efforts to access the epicenter.

Premier Wen has ordered the removal of the rocks and mud slides that blocked the roads to the epicenter before 12 p.m. Tuesday.

“People are trapped in debris, we must treasure every second,” he told an emergency meeting at 7 a.m.

Read here for the latest updates. Below are some images of the devastation.

From AP news:

From CCTV:

A student at Sichuan University took this footage from his dorm room at 2:29 pm:

By Itamar Medeiros

Originally from Brazil, Itamar Medeiros currently lives in Germany, where he works as Lead Product Design Strategist at SAP and promotes User Experience Design as visiting lecturer at Köln International School of Design. Working in the Information Technology industry since 1998, Itamar Medeiros has helped truly global companies in several countries (Argentina, Brazil, China, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, The Netherlands, Poland, United Arab Emirates, United States) create great user experience through advocating Design and Innovation principles. During his 7 years in China, he championed the User Experience Design discipline as User Experience Manager at Autodesk and Local Coordinator of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) in Shanghai

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