BEIJING, April 20 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered all-out measures to rescue victims and minimize casualties after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit southwestern province of Sichuan Saturday morning.
Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, issued the order soon after the quake jolted Lushan County of Ya'an City at 8:02 a.m. Beijing Time.
The disaster has claimed 152 lives and injured more than 3,000 as of 8: 30 p.m.
Xi urged to obtain information of the disaster quickly and make every possible effort to rescue people. Rescue work should be done in a scientific way in order to reduce casualties to a minimum, he said.
He also asked to strengthen seismic monitoring, take concrete steps to prevent secondary disasters, properly relocate people affected by the disaster, and maintain social stability of the quake zone.
The CPC Central Committee and Xi entrusted Premier Li Keqiang to direct the quake-relief work, who already arrived at the quake-zone in the afternoon.
In his instruction to the armed forces and armed police, Xi ordered troops in the quake-hit zone to make "every possible rescue effort" since the disaster has caused severe losses in affected areas.
The troops must be quickly dispatched to the front line of the quake-relief work to rescue residents and treat the injured, according to the instruction.
They have also been instructed to take precautionary measures against secondary disasters and help local governments to relocate affected people, as well as safeguard social stability of the quake zone.
Troops should also take care of their own safety, Xi said.
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 city of Chengdu.