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Premier Li Keqiang directs quake relief at epicenter

Updated: Apr 20,2013 1:51 PM     Xinhua

BEIJING — Premier Li Keqiang has arrived at the epicenter of a 7.0-magnitude earthquake which jolted southwest China’s Sichuan province and killed at least 124 on April 20.

Li took a helicopter to the epicenter of Lushan county in Ya’an city after he arrived in Sichuan. He called a meeting at around 6 pm at the front-line headquarters in Longmen township of Lushan.

Li ordered the reopening of a blocked road to the neighboring Baoxing county and told rescuers to work speedily.

Li left Beijing for Sichuan at 13:15 pm.

“The current most urgent issue is grasping the first 24 hours after the quake’s occurrence, the golden time for saving lives, to take scientific rescue measures and save peoples’ lives,” Li said during his flight to Sichuan.

The earthquake hit Lushan County at 8:02 am Beijing time on April 20. Authorities said at least 124 people have been killed and more than 3,000 injured in the disaster.

Earlier in the day, President Xi Jinping ordered all possible measures to be taken to rescue victims and minimize deaths and injuries.

The State Council, or the cabinet, has launched a first-grade emergency response to the earthquake. Emergency teams of ministries, armed forces and armed police are heading to the quake zone.

Leaders of Sichuan province have arrived at the epicenter and rescue and relief work is underway.

The epicenter, with a depth of 13 km, was monitored at 30.3 degrees north latitude and 103.0 degrees east longitude.

Ya’an has a population of 1.53 million and is known as the hometown of the giant panda. It is about 140 kilometers away from the provincial capital Chengdu city.