China quake death toll, now 15,000, continues to soarMay 14th, 2008 - 11:21 am ICT by admin
Beijing, May 14 (DPA) Military helicopters flew aid Wednesday to settlements cut off near the epicentre of a devastating earthquake in southwest China that killed some 15,000 people and left tens of thousands missing in toppled buildings. Heavy rain had initially prevented the helicopters from flying emergency aid to Wenchuan county, Sichuan province, while troops were still trying to restore the badly damaged main road to the county.
The nearby city of Mianyang reported more than 7,000 dead and an estimated 18,000 buried in collapsed buildings.
Another 10,000 were missing in nearby Mianzhu, where 3,000 were already confirmed dead.
Military and civilian rescue teams continued to pull people alive from in several areas of Sichuan and the nearby city of Chongqing.
But the extent of the damage and casualties in Wenchuan, which has a population of 105,000, remained unclear.
Some troops walked Tuesday to Yingxiu, one of the worst affected towns in Wenchuan, and the military later said at least 500 people were confirmed dead in the area.
About 1,300 soldiers had arrived in Wenchuan by mid-afternoon Tuesday and more were expected to arrive on Wednesday from the 50,000 troops sent to Sichuan after a quake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale caused widespread damage Monday afternoon.
The central government allocated 860 million yuan ($123 million) for relief operations while the Chinese Red Cross collected 65 million yuan ($9 million), and donations were promised by many foreign governments.
The earthquake could be felt in cities hundreds of kilometres away, including Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Bangkok.
It was the deadliest earthquake in China since 1976 when an estimated 242,000 people died in the northern city of Tangshan near Beijing.