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China quake death toll passes 2,000
Nearly 200 people still missing in Qinghai as government declares day of mourning.
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2010 04:42 GMT
The Chinese government has declared Wednesday a national day of mourning [AFP]

The death toll from last week's earthquake in China's northwest Qinghai province has climbed to 2,039.

Another 195 people are still listed as missing following the magnitude 6.9 quake which struck Yushu county last Wednesday, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The Chinese cabinet declared Wednesday a national day of mourning for victims of the quake. National flags will be flown at half-mast and public entertainment will be curtailed.

The quake also injured 12,135 people and left several thousand people homeless in the remote, largely Tibetan area.

Of the injured, more than 1,400 were said to be in serious condition.

Spurred by the discovery of three survivors the previous day, rescuers searched for others still alive on Tuesday in the worst-hit town of Jiegu and surrounding villages.

Women rescued

A woman in her 30s, along with a 68-year-old Tibetan woman and her granddaughter, were pulled out alive on Monday after being trapped under their collapsed homes for almost a week, state media reported.

Relatives kept four-year-old Cairen Baji and her grandmother, Wujian Cuomao, alive by using bamboo poles to push water and rice through the rubble until rescuers could pull them out.

Efforts have shifted to reconstruction but teams are still looking for survivors [Reuters]

The woman and child were protected by a wooden bed frame, which they huddled under as their house fell to pieces around them.

Chinese authorities have ramped up relief efforts that have been slowed by the rugged terrain and high altitude of the disaster area, with relief vehicles bringing food, tents, blankets and other aid.

Efforts were also shifting towards rebuilding to help the tens of thousands left homeless in the mountainous area.

But relief efforts could be hindered as light snow began fell on Tuesday in the region, with more snow and sleet forecast for the next three days.

Temperatures are expected to drop below freezing, Xinhua cited Tsering Tashi, the deputy chief of the Yushu Prefecture Meteorological Bureau, as saying.

Political overtones

Light snow fell in some areas of the quake zone on Tuesday as rescuers continued efforts to try to find survivors trapped under rubble.
 
The strong response to the quake by the Chinese government has not been without political overtones in the sensitive Tibetan region.

Jia Qinglin, China's most senior parliamentary adviser and the Communist party's No 4 ranking leader, warned at a meeting on Monday of "hostile forces from abroad working to cause disruptions and sabotage" to the disaster-relief effort, CCTV said.

Jia did not mention any specific individuals, but the Chinese government often refers to supporters of the Dalai Lama and advocates of Tibetan independence as "hostile forces".

Source:
Agencies
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