A massive earthquake struck central China on Monday, killing nearly 9,000. At least 8,533 people died in Sichuan Province alone, and nearly 900 students were trapped under the rubble of their school, state media reported.
The official Xinhua News Agency said 80 percent of the buildings had collapsed in Beichuan County in Sichuan Province after the magnitude 7.8 quake.
Xinhua also reported that 3,000 to 5,000 people died in Beichuan—which has a population of 160,000—raising fears that the overall death toll could increase sharply.
Another 10,000 people were believed to be hurt.
Crying for Help
Rescuers had recovered at least 50 bodies from the debris of the school building in Juyuan township, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) from the epicenter. Xinhua did not say if any students had been pulled out alive.
An unknown number of students also were reported buried after buildings collapsed at five other schools in Deyang in Sichuan, Xinhua reported.
It said its reporters saw buried teenagers struggling to break loose from underneath the rubble of the three-story building in Juyuan "while others were crying out for help."
Two girls were quoted by Xinhua as saying they escaped because they had "run faster than others."
The earthquake also sent thousands of people rushing out of buildings and into the streets hundreds of miles away in Beijing and Shanghai.
The temblor was felt as far away as Pakistan, Vietnam, and Thailand.