As of 7 AM local time, May 13th, 9219 deaths have been reported from the earthquake that took place in Wenchuan County of central Sichuan Province. An official from the county reported via satellite phone that 30,000 people in the county downtown had survived and gathered on streets, fearing more aftershocks to come. Army paratroops and paramedics have been sent to the place.
Due to strong storm and landslide caused by the earthquake, all roads to the deep-in-valley county are destructed, therefore there is very limited information available from the epicenter. Premier Wen Jiabao, who arrived earlier to direct the emergency rescue, said a helicopter sent to Wenchuan reported that thousands of people are under the debris from the quake. He commanded that rescuing people and reestablishing transportation to Wenchuan be the first priority, no matter how many troops are needed. Detailed casualty information from Wenchuan is still unknown. A captain from the troops was interviewed over phoned by China’s CCTV around 2AM local time. He said the troops had marched on foot in the mountains for 4 hours, thrown away everything except excavation tools and medical supplies, and had progressed 30 kilometers. They are still to reach the epicenter.
Another county, Beichuan, suffered the most death toll so far. More than 7,000 people are killed. The older part of the downtown area was reported “nearly completely destroyed”. Mianyang, a city nearby, issued an emergency call for adults under 50 to volunteer for the rescuing work in Beichuan.
Beichuan County, before the earthquake
More than 40,000 soldiers and police have been transported to Sichuan for the rescue work. Most damages and life loss occurred in Sichuan, although nearby provinces also saw tens of deaths. Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan and a city with 12 million people, sits within 70 miles of the epicenter.