BEIJING, April 20 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang ordered all possible measures to be taken to rescue victims and minimize deaths and injuries, after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit the southwestern Sichuan Province Saturday morning.
Instructions released require obtaining information of the disaster quickly, prioritizing lives and making every possible effort to rescue people.
Rescue work should be done in a scientific way, reducing casualties to a minimum, according to the instructions.
The instructions also urged the strengthening of seismic monitoring, taking concrete steps to prevent secondary disasters, resettling affected people properly and safeguarding social stability of the quake-hit zone.
The State Council, or the cabinet, has launched a first-grade emergency response to the earthquake. 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 earthquake jolted Lushan County of Ya'an City at 8:02 a.m. Beijing Time. Fifty-six people have so far been confirmed to have died, according to latest figures provided by the provincial earthquake relief headquarters.
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.
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