China's PM: First 24 hours most important to save lives

China's premier Li Keqiang arrives en route to earthquake disaster zone in the southwestern province of Sichuan. Credit: Reuters

China's premier Li Keqiang has said all efforts must be put into rescuing victims to limit the death toll, after an earthquake struck China's south western province of Sichuan.

After arriving in the disaster zone by helicopter, Li directed earthquake relief efforts from a plaza in Longmen township on Lushan, state news agency Xinhua said.

The premier told the news agency: "The current most urgent issue is grasping the first 24 hours since the quake's occurrence, the golden time for saving lives".