A 7.8 magnitude earthquake has struck the central Chinese province, Sichuan. Initial reports say between 3,000 to 5,000 people are known dead, with official Chinese media predicting the death toll will continue to rise. VOA's Stephanie Ho reports from Beijing.
The large earthquake struck after midday. The epicenter was 90 kilometers from the Sichuan provincial capital, Chengdu.
The Vice-Director of the Sichuan Earthquake Bureau, Deng Changwen, spoke to China Central TV by phone.
He said the large earthquake cut all communication to the disaster area, hampering official attempts to determine the real situation.
In one example, the official Xinhua News Agency says more than 900 students were buried when their high school collapsed in Dujiangyan, about 100 kilometers from the quake's epicenter.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao immediately flew to the affected areas, to oversee disaster relief efforts. He said Chinese government leaders will stand at the front lines of disaster relief work and unite with the people to overcome what he called a "very large disaster."
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