President Hu Jintao instructed to do utmost efforts to rescue and treat the victims, and Premier Wen Jiabao is on the way to Sichuan to direct the rescue efforts, according to a Xinhua report. Four pupils died in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality on Monday afternoon when an earthquake toppled two primary schools in the outer Liangping County of Chongqing.
More than 100 students were reportedly injured, the local government said. In the quake-stricken areas, it was not immediately clear if there were any casualties or damage from the tremor.
With a population of 111,800, Wenchuan lies in southeast part of the Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba, 146 km to the northwest of Chengdu, provincial capital of Sichuan.
Wenchuan is home to the Wolong Nature Reserve, China's leading research and breeding base of the endangered giant pandas.
The telecom networks in Chengdu and Chongqing cities broke down for a while after the quake. People complained they were unable to have phone calls on the fixed line or the mobile.
The quake was also felt in Zhengzhou, capital of central Henan Province, where people rushed out of homes and offices and took to the streets.
Many said they felt dizzy and saw the pendant lamps on their ceilings swinging back and forth.
In Lanzhou, capital of the northwest China's Gansu Province, the quake sent many parked cars by the roadside buzzing.