- Title: CHINA: U.N. chief tours China's earthquake zone as relief effort continues
- Date: 24th May 2008
- Summary: (BN08) YINGXIU TOWN, WENCHUAN COUNTY, SICHUAN PROVINCE, CHINA (MAY 24, 2008) (REUTERS) AERIAL VIEW OF MUDSLIDE IN MOUNTAIN AERIAL VIEW OF DESTROYED VILLAGE COLLAPSED SCHOOL BUILDING DAMAGED BUILDING RESCUE WORKERS STANDING IN LINE DISINFECTION WORKERS WALKING PAST CHINESE PRIME MINISTER WEN JIABAO STANDING ON RUBBLE SOLDIERS WATCHING VARIOUS OF CHINESE PREMIER WEN JIABAO SHAKING HANDS WITH UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON BAN LISTENING TO WEN WEN SPEAKING WEN AND BAN TALKING (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) CHINESE PRIME MINISTER WEN JIABAO SAYING: "Ladies, gentlemen and journalists, where you are standing now is the epicentre of the earthquake in Wenchuan county where 13,000 people have died." VARIOUS OF BAN WALKING THROUGH YINGXIU TOWN RIVER RUNNING THROUGH YINGXIU TOWN PILES OF RUBBLE DAMAGED BRIDGE OVER RIVER RESCUE WORKERS STANDING ON DESTROYED ROAD BAN SHAKING HANDS WITH RESCUE WORKERS COLLAPSED SCHOOL ROOF OF SCHOOL ON THE GROUND (SOUNDBITE) (English) BAN KI-MOON SAYING: "I feel a great sadness by what has happened to the Chinese people. It is a great natural tragedy. At the same time, I am moved by such strong leadership demonstrated by the Chinese government, by President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and all the people who have shown such great spirit of self help in the operation." VARIOUS OF SOLDIERS MEASURING OUT NEW FOUNDATION FOR TEMPORARY HOUSING SOLDIERS WORKING ON TEMPORARY HOUSING
- Embargoed: 8th June 2008 13:00
- Location: China
- Country: China
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Reuters ID: LVA5EJCOD2BXKKH77SPU28N1ISUW
- Story Text: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visits China's earthquake-hit southwest, and hails the Chinese government's quick relief efforts when meeting with Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. Chinese troops continue to evacuate injured earthquake survivors while rail services to the stricken region resume.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon took a helicopter to the epicentre of China's recent devastating earthquake at Yingxiu town in Wenchuan county on Saturday (May 24) where he also met with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.
Ban, who requested the visit, arrived in southwest China early in the morning to meet victims and witness the devastation first-hand, after visiting neighbouring Myanmar to see the aftermath of a massive cyclone.
The known death toll from the 7.9 magnitude earthquake already exceeds 60,000, but nearly 26,000 are missing and more bodies are expected to be found as the debris from flattened cities, towns and villages is cleared.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who has been a driving force behind Chinese rescue efforts, said that the death toll could reach 80,000 or more.
"Ladies, gentlemen and journalists, where you are standing now is the epicentre of the earthquake in Wenchuan county where 13,000 people have died," said Wen.
Beijing has largely won praise for its relief efforts, sending over 100,000 troops and a string of senior leaders to the worst-hit areas and accepting some foreign help even though the earthquake zone is home to China's chief nuclear weapons research lab.
Ban hailed Beijing's quick response to the most deadly tremor in decades.
"I feel a great sadness by what has happened to the Chinese people. It is a great natural tragedy. At the same time, I am moved by such strong leadership demonstrated by the Chinese government, by President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and all the people who have shown such great spirit of self help in the operation," Ban said.
In China, soldiers, relief workers and normal residents are already focused on reconstruction, although mountainous terrain means some places are still cut off after highways buckled, bridges collapsed and landslides blocked roads.
Around 8,000 Chinese troops are in the vicinity of the earthquake's epicentre, helping evacuate injured survivors and relocate those displaced.
Injured people were sent out by helicopters to nearby hospitals while people who lost their homes were moved to makeshift shelters.
Over 100 helicopters were flying in and out of the town every day, picking up the injured and bringing supplies.
Assisting the relief effort was the reopening on Saturday of the last railway line affected by the Sichuan earthquake.
Rail services between the provincial capital Chengdu and Baoji, a major rail hub in Shaanxi province, were suspended for 12 days after a tunnel collapsed, setting fire to a freight train carrying gasoline, said the official Xinhua news agency.
According to Xinhua, line will deliver urgently needed tents and medicine for disaster relief.
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