Toronto's Chinese community is keeping a close eye on developments in China where a major earthquake killed thousands Monday morning.

In Beichuan county, a 7.8-magnitude quake struck just before 2:30 p.m. local time. About 160,000 people live in the area and there are reports 80 per cent of the buildings have collapsed.

The death toll has climbed to almost 10,000 people and officials say nearly 900 students are feared buried under the ruins of two schools that collapsed in the municipality of Chongqing.

Chongqing, in the province of Sichuan, is Toronto's twin city.

"I saw it on TV. It's terrible, so sad," one woman told CTV Toronto. "It's very serious."

One man said he hopes Canada will deliver relief support.

"I just hope that the international community can help out," he said.

The Chinese Canadian National Council is urging Canada to deploy its Disaster Assistance Response Team to the region.

Colleen Hua, president of the council, said Canada has the equipment and the expertise to help and that they should take immediate action to do so.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Medical Assistance Teams are deploying medical volunteers to the region to help relief efforts.

"We have a large database of medical professionals from both Vancouver and Toronto who are willing to volunteer their skills and knowledge in this time of need," Valerie Pzepka, CMAT's acting chairperson said in a news release Monday.

"Our assessment team is departing for the area as early as Tuesday," she said.

CMAT is accepting financial donations and appealing to medical professionals to join their volunteer roster.

Relief efforts are also being organized through the International Red Cross. To make a donation, please call 1-800-418-1111. The caller must specify that they would like their donation to be made to China's earthquake relief fund.

With files from The Canadian Press and a report from CTV Toronto's John Musselman