About 9,000 die as massive quake rocks China
In southwest China’s Sichuan province — 100 km from the epicentre — 900 children were feared buried under the rubble of their high school, reports Reshma Patil.Beijing joltedBig shocks in the pastUpdated: May 13, 2008, 03:19 IST
Within hours, the official death toll from a massive earthquake that shook China on Monday afternoon shot up from four to 107 to “several thousands”. At the time of going to press, more than 9,000 people were feared dead in the earthquake — the worst in China in over three decades.
<b1>In southwest China’s Sichuan province — 100 km from the epicentre — 900 children were feared buried under the rubble of their high school. Rescue operations were on till late night. State news agency Xinhua reported that the children were “struggling to break loose from underneath the ruins while others were crying out for help”. Xinhua said 8,533 people died in Sichuan alone. In Beichuan county, near Sichuan’s capital Chengdu, 80 per cent of buildings collapsed and about 5,000 people were killed.
The extent of the death and destruction from the magnitude 7.8 earthquake which struck at 2.28 pm was not revealed until evening. But President Hu Jintao swiftly ordered an “all-out” effort to help the victims, mobilising thousands of troops, armed police and aid. By 9 pm in Beijing, state media flashed the news that the central government estimated the casualties to touch “several thousands”.
Prime Minister Wen Jiabao rushed to the epicentre at Wenchuan county. He called it a ‘severe disaster’ and called for calm and courage.