Monday, May 12, 2008

earthquake in sichuan

'Thousands dead' in Chinese quake

Between 3,000 and 5,000 people may have been killed by an earthquake measuring 7.8 in just one county of south-western China's Sichuan province, reports say.

Some 10,000 people are also feared to have been injured in Beichuan county.

Desperate efforts are under way to find survivors. One school that collapsed has buried an estimated 900 students.

President Hu Jintao has urged "all-out" efforts to rescue victims of the quake, which hit 92km (57 miles) from Chengdu, Sichuan's provincial capital.

Dozens of aftershocks have been reported since the quake, which was the strongest to hit Sichuan province in more than 30 years, Xinhua reports.

State television said the quake had not caused major damage to Chengdu, which has a population of more than 10 million people, or to the nearby Three Gorges Dam.

The BBC's Quentin Somerville says the Chinese army has a good record of mobilising and getting people to safety.

He also says news is coming through very fast from the affected area - it is one of the most open and speedy responses to an emergency he has ever seen from Chinese state media.

The quake was felt as far away as Beijing, he says, meaning millions of people will feel connected to the disaster and will be watching TV screens closely to see how the government responds.

We're safe in Beijing, far from the earthquake's epicenter. Four Stanford students were in Chengdu at the time of the earthquake (at the airport on the way back from a weekend trip to Sichuan), and are safe but temporarily stranded there...

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