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Reach all quake-hit areas in 24 hrs: Jiabao to troops

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao orders troops to reach all earthquake-ravaged areas within 24 hours, as they battled treacherous conditions looking for survivors under the rubble.

world Updated: May 20, 2008 01:53 IST

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Monday ordered troops to reach all earthquake-ravaged areas within 24 hours, as they battled treacherous conditions looking for survivors and pulling out bodies from under the rubble.

"Troops must overcome all difficulties and make sure to go into all villages within 24 hours", Wen said at a meeting of the general headquarters of quake relief under the State Council or the cabinet.

The Chinese Premier who was in the disaster zone soon after the magnitude eight earthquake struck ordered stepping up of epidemic prevention work and "proper handling" of the aftermath of the quake, official Xinhua news agency said.

Wen, who heads the relief headquarters, was briefed during the meeting on the rescue of trapped people, treatment of the injured, handling of the victims bodies and health and epidemic prevention work, it said.

The death toll in the earthquake rose to 34,073 today while the number of injured was put at 245,108, with 52,934 hospitalised.

Meanwhile, flags flew at half mast and sirens wailed across the country to mark a three-day mourning which began on Monday for the victims of the devastating earthquake even as aid poured in from India and other nations.