BEIJING, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- President Hu Jintao and other top leaders Friday called for immediate efforts to help with disaster relief work in southwest China, where multiple earthquakes have killed at least 67 people.
Hu, who is in Russia's city of Vladivostok for an annual economic leaders' meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, said authorities should work to ensure safety of lives and property in the quake zone.
Other top leaders, including top legislator Wu Bangguo, premier Wen Jiabao, vice premier Hui Liangyu, Central Military Commission Vice Chairmen Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou also made instructions for rescue work.
In a meeting on relief work held en route to the quake zone, Premier Wen stressed that efforts to save lives should come first to minimize casualties.
He said intensified efforts will be needed to take care of the injured, as well as restore infrastructure facilities that were damaged to facilitate the rescue work.
The premier asked authorities to provide adequate supplies of water, food, clothing and shelter for local residents affected by the quakes.
After withstanding the test of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, China is confident and capable in its ability to cope with natural disasters, he said.
Two quakes measuring 5.7 and 5.6 on the Richter scale hit a border area near Yiliang in Yunnan and Weining county in Guizhou province at 11:19 a.m. and 12:16 p.m. Friday, respectively.
So far 67 people have been confirmed dead and 731 others injured.
Rescuers in Yunnan Province said on Friday night they had reached 90 percent of the six quake-hit counties under Zhaotong, where a total of 740,000 people had been affected by the quakes.
The disaster has so far incurred 3.5 billion yuan (551 million U.S. dollars) in direct economic losses, Yunnan's civil affairs department said.
Officials in Guizhou said two people were injured and lives of nearly 28,000 people were disrupted in Weining county.