The death toll in the May 12 earthquake is likely cross 80,000, Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu said on Tuesday.
Hui submitted a report to the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, and acknowledged for the first time that many of those still missing could be dead.
The death toll had risen to 69,185 till noon yesterday. A total of 374,171 people were injured and 18,467 missing, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said.
The number of missing rose by 1,125 to 18,522 on Monday, according to the State Council Information Office.
These people were reported missing by their relatives who had returned to Sichuan from their places of work in other provinces and regions recently, said Chen Kefu, deputy chief of the Sichuan provincial civil affairs department.
They reported their missing relatives after discovering that their names were not on the local lists, Chen said.
The number of missing, however, dropped by 31 from Monday's figure, the information office said.