14 May, 2008

China: 15,000 dead, 25,000 people buried under rubble and mud..

China's death toll from a massive earthquake soared by several thousand Wednesday as rescue teams poured into the country's hardest-hit areas, state-run media reported.

The Xinhua news agency reported Wednesday that the death toll had risen to 14,866. An unofficial tally of deaths in individual communities -- as reported by the news agency over several days -- puts the toll at 19,565.

Xinhua also said nearly 26,000 people were still buried under debris and another 14,000 missing. More than 64,000 people sustained injuries.

The government sent 50,000 troops to dig for victims.

The Chinese government has responded quickly to Monday's massive earthquake, sending tens of thousands of troops to help rescue efforts and setting up round-the-clock medical stations.

Wen Jiabao, China's premier, was on an aircraft to the worst-hit area less than two hours after the quake hit.

A hard hat on his head and a bullhorn in hand, he ducked into the wreckage of a hospital where scores of people were buried and shouted: “Hang on a bit longer. The troops are rescuing you.” Throughout the day, the images of Mr. Wen directing disaster relief officials and comforting the injured dominated the airwaves.

“I think their response to this disaster shows they can act, and they can care,” he said. “They seem to be aware that a disaster like this can pull the country together and bring them support.” said Dali Yang, the director of the East Asian Institute in Singapore.

The Xinhua News Agency, the government’s leading propaganda organ, has offered an unusually vigorous stream of updates about casualties and problems confronting rescue teams.

Mr. Shi, the media studies professor, said he was surprised by the government’s candor and the vigor of the state-run Chinese press. He attributed some of the openness to a recent law that requires public officials to provide information to the news media during natural disasters. But like many experts, he said the Olympics were pushing China to experiment with a greater degree of openness.

“This is the first time the Chinese media has lived up to international standards,” he said, adding, “I think the government is learning some lessons from the past.”



Blogger J.T. said...

There is always a first time for everything. Hopefully this will be the beginning of more openness.

May all those who perish in this disaster rest in peace. Hope the missing will be found.

May 15, 2008 9:25 AM  

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