- Title: CHINA/TAIWAN: Death toll from China quake soars past 12,000
- Date: 14th May 2008
- Summary: (EU) TAIPEI, TAIWAN (MAY 13, 2008) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF MA YING-JEOU, PRESIDENT ELECT OF TAIWAN PRESENTING PERSONAL DONATION MA LEAVING
- Embargoed: 29th May 2008 12:56
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Reuters ID: LVA6948JN4YL3H07IKZ0DPB3SH3N
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: Tens of thousands of people are still missing as the rescue effort continues in China following the country's worst earthquake in three decades.
Premier Wen Jiabao visits victims taking refuge in a sports stadium Mianyang, where thousands of people have been relocated after their homes were destroyed.
The number of dead in China's earthquake climbed past 12,000 on Tuesday (May 12) with the toll expected to soar further after state media said nearly 19,000 people were buried under rubble in one city alone.
Rain hampered rescue efforts in the mountainous area around the epicentre of Monday's 7.9-magnitude quake that jolted the southwestern province of Sichuan, the country's worst earthquake in three decades.
State media reported scenes of devastation as rescuers gradually filed into villages near the epicentre in Wenchuan, a remote county cut off by landslides about 100 km (60 miles) northwest of the provincial capital, Chengdu.
An advance squad of more than 30 People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops arrived at Wenchuan's Yingxiu township and rescued 300 injured residents, Xinhua news agency said.
Only 2,000 were found alive in the town of 12,000, according to He Biao, a local official.
About 60,000 people were unaccounted for in Wenchuan, where 600 armed police were due to arrive before dawn on Wednesday.
More than 12,000 people died in Sichuan and more than 26,000 were injured, Sichuan vice-governor Li Chengyun said at a news conference in the provincial capital of Chengdu on Tuesday .
"According to incomplete statistics, by four o'clock in the afternoon on May 13, over 12,000 were dead; and 26,202 were injured; and 9404 were buried; about 3.46 million of houses were damaged," he said.
He added the most difficult part of the rescue effort so far has been to open up a road to the badly-affected areas up north of the province.
A further 18,645 people were buried under debris in the city of Mianyang, Xinhua said, suggesting the death toll was likely to rise sharply.
Later on Tuesday Premier Wen Jiabao visited survivors taking refuge in a sports stadium in Mianyang. Thousands of people have been relocated there after their homes were destroyed.
Thousands were also reported to be buried under factories, schools and other buildings elsewhere. Hundreds more have died in neighbouring provinces.
Officials have warned that more powerful aftershocks could hit the region and mudslides could add to the toll.
The quake was the worst to hit China since the 1976 Tangshan tremor in northeastern China where up to 300,000 died.
Offers of aid have come from around the world after the disaster, which occurred three months before the Beijing Olympics.
Taiwan officials and a local relief group offered to send search and rescue teams to earthquake-damaged China on Tuesday (May 13), drawing on experience with a similar disaster in 1999, but China has not accepted the aid.
Government search and rescue departments offered to send 58 people on a specially equipped relief aircraft, but Chinese officials declined the help and have not replied to a follow-up request, island officials said.
"We are going to send 40 search and rescue team members first.
They have been trained to search and rescue in collapsed buildings, and most of them have the experience from a similar disaster in 1999 in Taiwan,"
the head of the Taipei City Urban Search and Rescue team Hsu Chi-Min told journalists.
Visiting the team preparing on Tuesday, President-elect Ma Ying-jeou announced a personal donation of T$200,000 ($6,483 USD) to China's rescue effort.
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