China quake toll rises to 60,000

Survivor pulled from rubble 11 days after earthquake struck.

    Beijing hopes to rebuild devastated towns and villages within three years [AFP]


    However, stories of survival from the original earthquake continue to emerge.
    One person was pulled alive from a pile of rubble on Saturday, about 266 hours after the main earthquake struck.

    The prime minister said the government needs 900,000 tents for the survivors and has urged Chinese manufacturers to make 30,000 a day.

    Relief teams were working around the clock to set up temporary housing and provide food and medical care to the displaced.
    'Strenuous effort'
    The UN secretary-general, arriving from neighbouring Myanmar, praised China's response to the earthquake.
    In depth: China quake

    Map: Quake disaster zone

    Pictures: Quake devastation

    China's fast response

    Video: Push for normality after China quake

    Video: Grief turns to anger

    Video: Soldier tells of devastation

    Ban said: "The Chinese government, at the early stage of this natural disaster, has invested strenuous effort and demonstrated extraordinary leadership."
    Unlike Myanmar, China quickly accepted international rescue teams and doctors, although it faced some criticism for waiting several days to make its decision. 
    China has been eager to ease tensions with other countries ahead of the Beijing Olympic Games after global protests against its crackdown in Tibet disrupted almost every leg of the Olympic torch's world tour.
    In a boost for the relief effort, China announced on Saturday that the main railway connecting Sichuan province's capital Chengdu with the central city of Baoji had re-opened after being closed for a week and a half.
    Beijing has predicted it will take three years to rebuild devastated towns and villages across Sichuan.
    Wrecking machines have started to demolish the few buildings left standing in Beichuan in northern Sichuan.
    Officials say they plan to rebuild Beichuan's county seat in a new area, but no decision has been made on the location, Hou Xiongfei, a provincial official, said on Thursday.
    Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan, reporting from Mianyang, says the authorities are moving to return some normality to the lives of survivors, with schools in makeshift tents already in session.
    Ghost towns 

    The streets of Beichuan, one of the hardest-hit towns in the province, were nearly deserted after military convoys, emergency workers, residents and volunteers finally left the town.


    The government has appealed for more tents
    to house millions of survivors [EPA]

    Health experts say corpses pose little direct threat of communicable diseases or contamination.


    "There are no more signs of life," Li Zichuan, a soldier, said as he watched excavators demolishing what was left of the Beichuan Middle School.


    "During the recovery operation we dug many bodies up here, so now all that is left is to disinfect the place and then demolish it."


    Housing an estimated five million displaced persons has also been extremely difficult with the government making repeated international appeals for tents.


    Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, was shown on state television urging workers in two tent-manufacturing companies to boost production.


    He has also vowed to continue the rescue effort "to the last village".


    Damaged dams


    China's water ministry meanwhile said that 69 dams were in danger of bursting in the wake of the May 12 quake.

    The damage across the region is so great, that it may take months to assess the full extent of the devastation.


    In towns such as Cifeng, just 40km from the quake’s epicentre, almost every home has been destroyed.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    How the art world's hunger for ancient artefacts is destroying a centuries-old culture. A journey across the Himalayas.