More than 50,000 troops joined disaster relief efforts or were advancing to the area. The Chinese air force said 6,500 troops were parachuted into hard-hit areas where rain and clouds had prevented military helicopters from landing.
Premier Wen ordered troops to clear roads to Wenchuan. "Please speed up the shipping of food. The kids have nothing to eat now," he said amid crying children.
Premier Wen Jiabao was quick to reach the scene and urged rescuers to clear roads into the worst-hit areas as fast as possible.
"As long as there is even a little hope, we will redouble our efforts 100 times and will never relax our efforts," he told crying locals through a loudhailer in the badly hit Dujiangyan city, south-east of the epicentre.
The health ministry has made an urgent appeal for people to give blood to help the injured.
China said it would accept international help to cope with the quake - the worst since 1976 when 242,000 people were killed in Tangshan - and offered its thanks.
The government response was praised as "swift and very efficient" by Francis Marcus of the International Federation of the Red Cross in Beijing.
But he added the scale of the disaster was such that "we can't expect that the government can do everything and handle every aspect of the needs".
Make no mistake about it - the Chinese government is an oppressive totalitarian State whose only justification is the Chinese fear of anarchy.
But compare and contrast.