Further obstacles
 
Rescue work had been complicated by bad weather, treacherous terrain and hundreds of aftershocks.

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Towns abandoned after earthquake hit China

The spectre of poor weather conditions loomed early on Sunday with state media reporting heavy rain had lashed quake-battered areas the previous night, causing a mud-rock flow in one town, with more inclement weather expected.

"The rainy weather might cause some houses to collapse and worsen the disaster situation," state Xinhua news agency said.

As the weather becomes warmer, survivors continue to ask questions about their long-term future.
   
"What we don't need now is more instant noodles," said Wang Jianhong, a truck driver in the city of Dujiangyan.

"We want to know now what will happen with our lives."

The US Geological Survey also reported a tremor of 6.1 magnitude centred 80km west of the town in Guangyuan, the latest in a series of aftershocks to hit Sichuan province.

While the rescue effort pressed on, other authorities focused on supplying fresh drinking water and improving sanitary conditions for the 4.8 million people who lost their homes and are living in tent cities or in the open.

 

Officials plan to distribute 0.5kg of food and a $1.43 subsidy each day to people with financial difficulties in quake-hit areas for three months, Xinhua reported.

 

China's health ministry said it could not rule out major epidemics, saying that rudimentary sanitation and uncertain access to safe water and food supplies were a potentially lethal breeding-ground for infectious diseases.

More survivors

Rescuers pulled at least 63 people alive from collapsed buildings on Saturday, state media said, revising its earlier figure of seven.

 

Xinhua news agency said 57 survivors were rescued in Yingxiu town in Wenchuan County, the epicentre of the 7.9 magnitude earthquake that struck Sichuan province on Monday afternoon.

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China's fast response

Another six people were also found alive about 120 hours after the devastating quake in other areas, including Beichuan county, Shifang city and Dujiangyan city, the report said.

 

China initially rebuffed offers of help from foreign rescue experts, but teams from Japan, Russia, Singapore and South Korea have begun work. Teams have also headed in from Taiwan and Hong Kong.

      

Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, toured three of the worst-hit towns in the quake epicentre of Wenchuan county on Saturday.

 

An aftershock struck during his speech to rescue workers.

 

He later thanked the international community for coming to China's aid.

  

"On behalf of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, the State Council and the Central Military Commission, I express heartfelt thanks to the foreign governments and international friends that have contributed to our quake-relief  work," Xinhua quoted Hu as saying.