The death toll from Monday's earthquake has exceeded 19,509 in Sichuan Province, the provincial government said late Thursday.

The figure may still rise given that thousands remain trapped under the rubble of buildings destroyed by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake centered in Sichuan's Wenchuan County. The number of victims is estimated more than 50,000. The number of people directly affected earthquake is more than 10 million.

Even in other provinces, there are also many people have died as a result of the earthquake, with reports of nearly 500 people in Gansu, Shanxi, Chongqing and Henan.

Tens of thousands of troops, firefighters and civilians have raced to save more than 25,000 people buried across a wide swath of collapsed schools, factories, hospitals and village.

As of 10am today, 64,040 victims had been hospitalized in Sichuan. Among them, 12,587 patients were severely injured, Gao Qiang, deputy Minister of Health, told a news conference in Beijing this afternoon.

Now a matter of urgency in China is to prevent epidemics. Till now,there is no epidemics have been reported in Sichuan, Gao said, adding that the government will try everything to achieve the goal of no big epidemic after a great disaster.

He said medical workers had acquired better knowledge of epidemic diseases and effective measures to prevent them.

We have made careful plans for disease control and prevention in disaster areas and have sent a large group of medical workers to those areas to carry out our mission, said Gao.

China had been able to control epidemics after all major natural disasters since 1976, including the 7.8-magnitude quake in Tangshan City that killed more than 240,000 people.

Whether we achieve the goal will depend on the real work we do in those areas, he added.

Meanwhile, domestic donations in both cash and goods to the quake-hit areas had risen to 1.344 billion yuan as of 3pm today, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.