May 14th, 2008 09:03 EST
100 elite soldiers to cut-off quake area
The first batch of 100 elite soldiers were parachuted on Wednesday afternoon into an area near the epicenter of Monday's earthquake in southwest China.
The parachutists landed on 12:20 p.m. safely in the cut-off Maoxian county, northeast of the epicenter Wenchuan.
Death toll caused by Monday's major quake in Maoxian, with a population of roughly 105,000, rose to 95 as of 3 p.m. Wednesday, according to the parachutists, along with 836 injured and 92 missing.
Of the injured, 56 were in critical conditions, according to 15 parachutists who had made contact with military sources, citing a lack of food and tetanus medicines.
Two of the county's hydropower stations were severely damaged during the quake, and dam breaks were feared, the parachutists said.
Local government and the paratroopers are now engaging in evacuation of the county residents, the military sources said.
The parachutists were selected from the airborne special force.
China planned to parachute troops and supplies into Wenchuan on Tuesday, but later called off the action due to unfavorable weather conditions including thunderstorms and heavy rain.