The 7.8 magnitude earthquake, centered in Sichuan province, southwestern China, struck in the middle of the school day on Monday and toppled at least eight schools. Chemical-laden factories and at least one hospital collapsed, trapping hundreds more, state media said.
The death toll is believed to be close to 10,000 people. The reports say that hundreds of others are trapped under schools, factories and houses while the worst-hit area was still cut off from rescuers on Tuesday.
The death toll appeared likely to climb in China’s worst earthquake for over three decades as troops struggled on foot to reach the worst-hit area of Wenchuan, some 100 km (62 miles) from the Sichuan’s provincial capital Chengdu. Officials said there was no word from three townships nearest to the epicentre in Wenchuan, a hilly county of 112,000 people.