More than 30,000 people were missing or out of reach in the quake-hit Shifang City in southwest China's Sichuan Province, as the death toll climbed above 2,500, according to the local government.
Twelve teachers and 447 students were among the dead. Another 147 teachers and 2,673 students were injured, according to a statement posted on the government website (www.shifang.gov.cn).
Meanwhile, 238 more students were buried in the rubble and 147 were missing, the statement said. Buildings of seven schools in the mountains had collapsed, it said.
In addition, more than 10,000 people across the city were injured, and the total loss was estimated at about 40 billion yuan(5.7 billion U.S. dollars), it said.
"The death toll is still rising," it said.
A local press official surnamed Zou told Xinhua that power and transport had restored in most parts of the city, except in three townships.
"But we are in great need of medical workers and equipment," he said.
He revealed that some 1,000 miners in small towns were among the missing.
"We still have no news of them," he said.
Shifang came under focus when the earthquake destroyed two chemical plants in the Yinghua town and caused the leakage of 80 tons of ammonia, forcing more than 6,000 people to evacuate.
But Zou said the leak has been capped, and no one had died because of it.
According to the government statement, a 1,000-man parachute troop are engaged in rescue efforts in the area, and about 10,000 people are staying in government shelters.
The city has a population of about 430,000 people.
A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Wenchuan County of Sichuan Monday afternoon. The tremors were felt in most parts of the county.
The death toll across the country has risen to 14,866, the latest government statistics show.
Among those, 14,463 were confirmed dead in Sichuan Province, 280 in Gansu Province, 106 in Shaanxi Province, 14 in Chongqing Municipality, two in Henan Province, one in Yunnan Province and one in Hubei Province.
The central government allocated another 250 million yuan in relief for quake-hit areas Wednesday, brining total disaster relief fund from the central budget to 1.11 billion yuan.
Meanwhile, public donations reached have reached 877 million yuan in both cash and goods, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
A total of 47,813 soldiers, armed police and paramilitary personnel have been dispatched for disaster relief work and another 30,000 personnel will be sent to join the rescue efforts, military sources said.
(Xinhua News Agency May 15, 2008)