Buddhist monks cremate China quake victims, toll rises to 1339 | world | Hindustan Times
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Buddhist monks cremate China quake victims, toll rises to 1339

Buddhists monks today oversaw mass cremation of hundreds of victims amidst fears of disease in China's quake-hit province of Qinghai as toll mounted to over 1,300 and hopes dimmed of finding more survivors.

world Updated: Apr 17, 2010 18:27 IST

Buddhists monks on Saturday oversaw mass cremation of hundreds of victims amidst fears of disease in China's quake-hit province of Qinghai as toll mounted to over 1,300 and hopes dimmed of finding more survivors.

A massive funeral pyre with the bruised corpses piled on it outside the shattered town of Jiegu, on the remote Tibetan plateau, was lit by monks amidst religious chanting, official Xinhua news agency reported.

The sanitation fears forced a break from traditional Tibetan "sky burials" in which corpses are left on mountaintops to decompose or be consumed by vultures.

"The death toll has climbed to 1,339 with another 332 still missing," rescue officials said on Saturday, even as Tibetan province was shaken by a moderate temblor measuring 5.2 the same day.

The 7.1-magnitude quake, which struck the Yushu County in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu on Wednesday, April 14 has left 11,849 injured, 1,297 severely, spokesman for the rescue headquarters Xia Xueping said.

The death toll kept mounting as the 72-hour period, regarded as the golden hour to rescue people buried under the rubble, ended, and the focus shifted to providing medicare, food and shelter to the survivors.

China deployed thousands of rescuers including several army contingents to carry on with the rescue and relief operations.

Soldiers from the Chinese People's Liberation Army have rescued 1,200 people and treated more than 8,700 injured in the quake zone, a spokesperson for the People's Liberation Army quake-relief headquarters said.

Over 12,300 soldiers were sent to the quake zone and more than 11,300 had reached to carry out rescue operations.

Just as relief operations was gathering steam, an earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale hit Nyainrong County in Tibet's Nagqu at 8:58 am on Saturday.

China Earthquake Network Center said this morning that the epicenter of the quake was about 60 kilometres north of Nyainrong, with a depth of about 10 kilometres.

Official media said no immediate reports of casualties or damage were available.

Tibet's seismological bureau has sent a work team to Nyainrong. The quake-hit area, sparsely populated, has an average altitude of 5,000 metres.