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Press Release 2008/05/20 - Millions mourn quake victims as death toll exceeds 40,000
[Released in New York at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, 20 May 2008]


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For Immediate Release
Press Section
May 20, 2008

  • Millions mourn quake victims as death toll exceeds 40,000
  • 247,645 injured; 32,361 missing
  • China reiterates gratitude for international aid


  1.  Millions of people grieve over quake victims. 
  2.  China reiterates gratitude for int'l aid over quake disaster. 
  3.  Death toll rises to 40,075 on Tuesday, May 20, 2008. Over 5 million rendered homeless. 
  4.  200 rescue workers from Transport Ministry killed by landslides when repairing damaged roads. 
  5.  Bilingual websites launched for quake information. 
  6.  278,462 tents, 783,984 quilts, 1.7836 million coats made available to quake areas. 
  7.  No epidemic, public health incidents in quake zone. 80% of quake victims' corpses buried or cremated. 
  8.  Psychological services for traumatized quake survivors in full swing. 
  9.  Government vows education for earthquake orphans. 
  10.  China recovers 30 of the 32 radioactive sources buried in earthquake. 
  11.  11.727 billion Chinese yuan or 1.69 billion U.S. dollars had been spent on earthquake relief by Chinese governments of different levels. 
  12.  Donations to quake zone hit 2 billion U.S. dollars (13.925 billion RMB), 8 days after quake. 
  13.  Last quake-stranded Taiwan tourists rescued. 
  14.  First batch of tent classrooms set up in hardly-hit quake zone. 
  15.  31-year-old man rescued after being buried for 179 hours.  60-year-old woman rescued 195 hours after major earthquake.

http://www.china.org.cn/   http://english.gov.cn/   http://www.chinaview.cn/
http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/  http://english.cctv.com/  http://www.china-un.org/
www.xhwenchuan.cn   www.512gov.cn   www.wenchuan.cn

According to China's Ministry of Finance, as of 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, 20 May, 11.727 billion Chinese yuan (1.69 billion U.S. dollars) had been spent on earthquake relief by Chinese governments of different levels. The Central Government had put in 8.679 billion yuan (1.25 billion U.S. dollars), and provincial and local governments had spent 3.048 billion yuan (441 million U.S. dollars). According to Vice Minister of Civil Affairs Jiang Li, as of 1:00 p.m. Tuesday, May 20, the Civil Affairs Ministry, the PLA, local departments of civil affairs and Red Cross Society of China had made available to quake-hit regions 278,462 tents, 783,984 quilts, 1.7836 million coats, as well as food and drinking water with a worth of 31.5 million U.S. dollars.

China launches 3 bilingual websites for quake information: Three bilingual websites, offering news and information about the Sichuan quake in Chinese and English, were launched by China's official news organizations on Monday, a week after the earthquake struck. The three sites -- www.xhwenchuan.cn, www.512gov.cn and www.wenchuan.cn -- were established by the Xinhua News Agency, the People's Daily and the China Central Television Station, respectively. The sites will provide the latest news on rescue efforts, the situation of survivors and infrastructure reconstruction. They will also post knowledge about sanitation and health, as well as psychological counseling for survivors. The sites hope to help survivors link up with their relatives and orphans find new lives, and to collect public suggestions on reconstruction.

China reiterates gratitude for int'l aid over quake disaster: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang Tuesday briefed reporters on the latest aid provided by the international community and reiterated China's gratitude to international condolences and aid over the deadly earthquake in Sichuan Province. "All the international condolences and aid have fully shown the friendly affection of these foreign governments and peoples toward the Chinese people and their noble humanitarian spirit," Qin said. So far 166 countries and 30 international organizations have expressed condolences to China and international aid has been coming in, he said. Flags of more than 100 foreign embassies and offices of international organizations in China flew at half-mast during China's three-day national mourning from Monday to Wednesday, and foreign diplomats and international representatives to China came in an endless stream to the Foreign Ministry to mourn, according to Qin. He said that the rescue teams sent by Japan, Russia, the Republic of Korea and Singapore to the quake-hit southeastern part of China have worked against time, difficulties and danger in the quake relief, which showed their respect for lives and their high professional level and had deeply moved the Chinese people. "We are sincerely grateful to the four countries' governments, peoples and rescuers," Qin said. In response to a Japanese journalist's question, Qin specially thanked Japan, which was the first country to send a rescue team to Sichuan, saying the hard work of the Japanese rescuers was extensively known by the Chinese people. China has also agreed to accept medical teams from Germany, Italy, Russia and Japan to go to the quake-hit area and would consider accepting more foreign medical teams according to the medical aid progress in the quake-hit area, said Qin.

Psychological services for China's traumatized quake survivors in full swing: China's largest ever psychological service operation for survivors of a natural disaster is in full swing, a week after an 8.0-magnitude earthquake rocked the southwestern Sichuan Province. There are at least 300 professional psychologists working in the quake zone, according to Xinhua's tally of medical staff sent by the Ministry of Health and a dozen of medical institutes around the country. Thousands of volunteers from around the country have registered through local psychological service stations to go to the rescue front line.

Gov't vows education for earthquake orphans: Vice Governor of Sichuan Li Chengyun on Monday, May 19 vowed to support earthquake orphans receiving college and vocational school education. According the vice governor, orphans attending universities in future will be sponsored by the government. Those who fail the university entrance examination will be arranged to attend vocational schools at government expense and after graduating, the government will find them jobs. As for the orphans attending secondary schools now, the government will resettle them according to their age and cover all their expenses.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Quake death toll roses to 40,075 on Tuesday evening: The death toll from the devastating earthquake in Sichuan Province rose to 40,075 nationwide as of 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, while 247,645 people were injured, and 32,361 people remained missing. As of 5:00 p.m. May 20, at least 6,543 aftershocks had been recorded in Sichuan Province alone. In Sichuan: 39,577 died, 236,359 injured, 60,026 rescued from rubble.

Donations to quake-hit areas reaches 2 billion U.S. dollars, 8 days after quake: By 1:00 p.m. Tue. May 20, a total of 13.925 billion Chinese yuan or 2 billion U.S. dollars of donations in cash and in kind had been received (12.516 billion Chinese yuan or 1.8 billion U.S. dollars in cash).

Over 5 million people homeless: According to the press conference of the State Council held this afternoon, earth quake in Wenchuan left over 5,000,000 people homeless. Quake-hit area finds 124 orphans and bereaved elderly. By Tuesday, 124 orphans, senior people who lost their family members during Sichuan's devastating earthquake and handicapped people left unprovided for have been found in China's quake-hit areas, a vice minister of civil affairs said Tuesday.

80% of quake victims' corpses buried or cremated: Eighty percent of quake victims' corpses in southwest China's Sichuan Province have been buried or cremated, said vice-minister of civil affairs Jiang Li at a press conference on Tuesday. Jiang said the Ministry of Civil Affairs, Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Health have sent experts to disaster-hit areas to supervise the handling of corpses. The identified dead bodies were cremated or buried promptly. For those yet to be identified, police and medical workers kept a numbered record, took pictures and collected body tissues for DNA tests. A DNA database of those unidentified dead bodies will be built for later identification. Identification process of the corpses is carried out as soon as possible, and the bodies are handled with respect and strictly in accordance with relevant rules.

China recovers 30 radioactive sources buried in earthquake: China has recovered 30 of the 32 radioactive sources buried in last Monday's earthquake, while the remaining two have been located, a senior environmental official said on Tuesday.

Officials move 9,000 from Sichuan town, fearing new disasters: Nearly 9,000 people in a quake zone were evacuated on Tuesday for fear that huge cracks on a mountain could lead to further disasters. Many crevices, measuring up to 1,500 meters long, 250 m high and 50 centimeters wide, have been spotted on the Shiziliang Mountain in the Qingchuan County seat, Guangyuan City, since Sunday, threatening about 50,000 people and quake-relief soldiers. Part of the mountain, distorted in the 8.0-magnitude earthquake and many aftershocks over the past week, has sunk about 1 meter and caused many road works to cave in. Any new aftershock or heavy rainfall in the area could trigger serious landslides and cause casualties, according to the quake relief headquarters at the site. The local government on Tuesday launched an emergency evacuation of 9,000 residents near the mountain. The area has been cordoned off and is under round-the-clock monitoring.

Woman rescued 195 hours after earthquake: A 60-year-old woman was rescued 195 hours after the magnitude 8.0 earthquake rocked southwest China's Sichuan Province on May 12, 2008. 

Monday, 19 May 2008

Quake death toll rose to 34,074 on Monday: The death toll from the 8.0-magnitude earthquake that jolted southwest China's Sichuan Province had risen to 34,073 and the number of injured has reached 245,108 by 12 a.m., May 19. 52,934 had been hospitalized, 7,979 had been discharged from hospital after treatment, and over 3,300 had died in hospital. In Sichuan Province alone: 33,570+ dead, 23,3810+ injured, 5260+ buried; 60,020 had been helped to safety, and 4,850,620 had been resettled temporarily.

As of Monday midnight, 360,159 quake-stranded people had been successfully rescued, including 6,375 survivors pulled from beneath rubble.

Donations to China quake zone hit 1.55 billion U.S. dollars, a week after earthquake: China has received 10.834 billion yuan (1.55 billion U.S. dollars) in cash and goods for earthquake relief from donors at home and abroad as of 1 p.m. Monday, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs. The donation include 8.927 billion yuan in cash and 1.909 billion yuan worth of relief materials.

Millions mourn quake victims: Millions of people in China and overseas observed three minutes of silence at 2:28 p.m. on Monday as they mourned the many killed in a deadly earthquake in Sichuan Province a week ago.

  • President Hu Jintao, top legislator Wu Bangguo, Premier Wen Jiabao, and other top leaders including Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang also s00 of them have received mental consultation up till now, according to Jiangsu Express Days of working on the rescuing front and watching people dying or struggling to live could cause mental problems to rescue workers, especially to young rescuers, and their symptoms include faster heart-beat and hand shaking.

    30 Gas Gangrene cases confirmed in Chengdu: Thirty patients in Sichuan University's Huaxi Hospital have been infected with gas gangrene, according to sources at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDCP). An isolation ward has been set up to prevent the disease spreading. All patients injured in the quake arriving at Huaxi Hospital will be sent to the isolation ward for diagnosis on arrival. There have been no cases of cross infection in Huaxi Hospital so far. But rescuers in the quake-hit region have been warned not to make direct contact with survivors' skin, and to follow effective disinfection procedures. Experts from CCDCP say isolation wards should be set up in all hospitals receiving patients from quake-hit area. All injured persons transferred from the quake area should be first sent to isolation wards to be checked for gas gangrene. If gas gangrene is suspected, treatment must begin immediately. Thoroughly cleaning wounds, removing foreign objects and dead tissue is the best way to prevent clostridia infection.

    First charity school brings hope to quake students: On Sunday May 18, just six days after the 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck Sichuan, the China Youth Development Foundation (CYDF) completed construction of a new primary school in one of the worst hit areas, Zundao Town in Mianzhu County. 100 volunteers from all parts of China, working under the direction of technical staff, took only one day to assemble the prefabricated buildings and tents that will house the school until permanent buildings are constructed. Work on the 1,100-square-meter site began on Sunday Morning and was completed by 8 PM the same evening. The school is the first of a number of "Kangzhen Hope" (Kangzhen means "quake relief" in Chinese) schools planned to replace the huge number of school buildings that were destroyed in the earthquake.


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