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 China quake death toll rises to about 10,000

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PostSubject: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Mon May 12, 2008 11:56 pm

China quake death toll rises to about 10,000

Associated Press

CHENGDU, China - A powerful earthquake toppled buildings, schools and chemical plants Monday in central China, killing about 10,000 people and trapping untold numbers in mounds of concrete, steel and earth in the country's worst quake in three decades.

The 7.9-magnitude quake devastated a region of small cities and towns set amid steep hills north of Sichuan's provincial capital of Chengdu. Striking in midafternoon, it emptied office buildings across the country in Beijing and could be felt as far away as Vietnam.

As Tuesday dawned, rescuers were frantically searching for more survivors, but rain was compounding the difficulty. Premier Wen Jiabao, who flew to the region, said rain was forecast for the next several days.
The government was pouring in troops to aid in the disaster recovery. Xinhua said 16,000 were in the area and 34,000 more were en route.

Snippets from state media and photos posted on the Internet underscored the immense scale of the devastation. In the town of Juyuan, south of the epicenter, a three-story high school collapsed, burying as many as 900 students and killing at least 50, the official Xinhua news agency said. Photos showed people using cranes, mechanical hoists and their hands to remove slabs of concrete and steel.

The news agency reported on Tuesday that another 1,000 students and teachers were buried and feared dead when a high school collapsed in Beichuan county. The building was reduced to a pile of rubble two yards high, it said.

Buried teenagers struggled to break free from the rubble in Juyuan, "while others were crying out for help," Xinhua said. Families waited in the rain near the wreckage as rescuers wrote the names of the dead on a blackboard, Xinhua said.

Parents of the dead students built makeshift religious altars at the site, resting the corpses on any available piece of plywood or cardboard, and burning paper money and incense in a traditional honor for their child in the afterlife, according to NPR's Melissa Block.

The earthquake hit one of the last homes of the giant panda at the Wolong Nature Reserve and panda breeding center, in Wenchuan county, which remained out of contact, Xinhua said. But the agency reported that 60 pandas at another breeding center in Chengdu were safe.

In Chengdu, it crashed telephone networks and hours later left parts of the city of 10 million in darkness.

"We can't get to sleep. We're afraid of the earthquake. We're afraid of all the shaking," said 52-year-old factory worker Huang Ju, who took her ailing, elderly mother out of the Jinjiang District People's Hospital. Outside, Huang sat in a wheelchair wrapped in blankets while her mother, who was ill, slept in a hospital bed next to her.

The overall death toll increased to about 10,000, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Tuesday. It said nearly 10,000 people died in central China's Sichuan province alone and 300 others in three other provinces and the mega-city of Chongqing.

Worst affected were four counties including the quake's epicenter in Wenchuan, 60 miles northwest of Chengdu. Landslides left roads impassable Tuesday, causing the government to order soldiers into the area on foot, state television said, and heavy rain prevented four military helicopters from landing.

Wenchuan's Communist Party secretary appealed for air drops of tents, food and medicine. "We also need medical workers to save the injured people here," Xinhua quoted Wang Bin as telling other officials who reached him by phone.

To the east, in Beichuan county, 80 percent of the buildings fell, and 10,000 people were injured, aside from 3,000 to 5,000 dead, Xinhua said. State media said two chemical plants in an industrial zone of the city of Shifang collapsed, spilling more than 80 tons of toxic liquid ammonia. The news agency said about 600 people died in Shifang and up to 2,300 were buried by rubble.

Though slow to release information at first, the government and its state media ramped up quickly.
Wen, a geologist by training, held an early morning emergency meeting near Chengdu and ordered troops and police to clear the road north to Wenchuan.

"We must try our best to open up roads to the epicenter and rescue people trapped in disaster-hit areas," he said. Wen said the earthquake "was more serious" than expected.

Television footage showed large boulders and downed trees blocking the road to Wenchuan.

Disasters always pose a test for the communist government, whose mandate rests heavily on maintaining order, delivering economic growth, and providing relief in emergencies.

Pressure for a rapid response was particularly intense this year, with the government already grappling with public discontent over high inflation and a widespread uprising among Tibetans in western China while trying to prepare for the Aug. 8-24 Beijing Olympics.

"I am particularly saddened by the number of students and children affected by this tragedy," President Bush said in a statement.

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said no aid requests had been made by China.

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge sent his condolences to President Hu Jintao, adding: "The Olympic Movement is at your side, especially during these difficult moments. Our thoughts are with you."

The quake was the deadliest since one in 1976 in the city of Tangshan near Beijing that killed 240,000 — although some reports say as many as 655,000 perished — the most devastating in modern history. A 1933 quake near where Monday's struck killed at least 9,000, according to geologists.

Monday's quake occurred on a fault where South Asia pushes against the Eurasian land mass, smashing the Sichuan plain into mountains leading to the Tibetan highlands — near communities that held sometimes violent protests of Chinese rule in mid-March.

Much of the area has been closed to foreign media and travelers since then, compounding the difficulties of getting information. Roads north from Chengdu to the disaster area were sealed off early Tuesday to all but emergency convoys.

In Chengdu, the region's commercial center, the airport closed for seven hours, reopening only for emergency and a few outbound flights. A major railway line to the northeast was ruptured, stranding about 10,000 passengers, Xinhua said. Although most of the power had been restored by nightfall, phone and Internet service was spotty and some neighborhoods remained without power and water.

Nervous residents spent the night outside, some playing cards or heading to the suburbs. State media, citing the Sichuan seismology bureau, reported 313 aftershocks.

"Traffic jams, no running water, power outs, everyone sitting in the streets, patients evacuated from hospitals sitting outside and waiting," said Ronen Medzini, an Israeli student in Chengdu, via text message.
When it hit shortly before 2:30 p.m., the quake rumbled for nearly three minutes, witnesses said, driving people into the streets in panic.

"It was really scary to be on the 26th floor in something like that," said Tom Weller, a 49-year-old American oil and gas consultant staying at the Holiday Inn. "You had to hold on to something like that or you'd fall over. It shook for so long and so violently, you wondered how long the building would be able to stand this."

While most buildings in the city held up, those in the countryside tumbled. On the outskirts of Chongqing, a school collapsed, killing at least five people. Residents said teachers kept the children inside, thinking it was safer.

The city of Mianyang ordered all able-bodied males under 50 to take water and tools and walk or drive to Beichuan, where most of the buildings had collapsed.

State TV broadcast tips for anyone trapped in the earthquake. "If you're buried, keep calm and conserve your energy. Seek water and food, and wait patiently for rescue," CCTV said.

China's two stock exchanges suspended trading Tuesday in 66 companies based in the region in an effort to minimize potential disruptions from the disaster. In Tokyo, Toyota Motor Corp. spokesman Toshiaki Hori said production had been suspended at the company's Chengdu factory.
Although initially measured at 7.8 magnitude, the U.S. Geological Survey later revised its assessment of the quake to 7.9. Its depth — about six miles below the surface, according to the USGS — gave the tremor such wide impact, geologists said.

The earthquake also rattled buildings in Beijing, 930 miles to the north, causing evacuations of office towers. People ran screaming into the streets in other cities, where many residents said they had never felt an earthquake.

In Beijing, where hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors are expected for the Olympics, stadiums, arenas and other venues for the games were undamaged.

Li Jiulin, a top engineer on the 91,000-seat National Stadium — known as the Bird's Nest and the jewel of the Olympics — was conducting a site inspection when the quake struck. He told reporters the building was designed to withstand a 8.0 quake.

"The Olympic venues were not affected by the earthquake," said Sun Weide, a spokesman for the Beijing organizing committee. "We considered earthquakes when building those venues."

Some 660 miles to the east in Anhui province, chandeliers swayed in the lobby of the Buckingham Palace Hotel. "We've never felt anything like this our whole lives," said a hotel employee surnamed Zhu.

The massive Three Gorges dam, the world's largest about 350 miles to the east of the epicenter, was not affected, according to the information office of State Council Three Gorges Construction Committee. The area around the enormous dam remains increasingly precarious as rising waters in the reservoir have led to landslides.

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PostSubject: Re: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Mon May 12, 2008 11:57 pm

I keep reading this story and it's just so sad. The death toll is staggering.

Sucks bad.

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PostSubject: Re: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Tue May 13, 2008 12:09 am

I felt the earthquake here. It was enormous.

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PostSubject: Re: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Tue May 13, 2008 12:14 am

I knew you were okay, but any friends or fam that are jacked up?

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PostSubject: Re: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Tue May 13, 2008 12:19 am

Nah, don't know anyone in that region of China.

Taiwan got a big one in 1999. Killed over 2000 people. I wasn't here then. I ask my wife about it, but she was asleep through the whole thing. She woke up the next morning without power or water and was like "what the hell."

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PostSubject: Re: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Tue May 13, 2008 12:22 am

I feel so bad for the people over there. 10,000 human lives gone. What really sucks is just our media, this has gotten very little attention. I imagine there will be some people here who have little to no knowledge of it.

Natural disasters are brutal.

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PostSubject: Re: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Tue May 13, 2008 12:32 am

I honestly hadn't heard about it until I read this thread.

Unfortunately, when you think of the Chinese there's the idea that 'well, there's plenty more where that came from.' People seem to feel as though every life is sacred... unless it's in an overpopulated Country.

Very sad.

Like you said.... 10,000 lives... snuffed out... just like that...

Insane to think about.

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PostSubject: Re: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Tue May 13, 2008 11:35 am

It was on CNN, yesterday morning, right after it happened. I started going to the CNN website after that. I was devestated to read that about 80% of the buildings in this area were destroyed... and that there was a school where 900 children were buried under the rubble. It's just devestating what's happening. Natural disasters are just so horrendous.

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PostSubject: Re: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Tue May 13, 2008 7:18 pm

The preacher dude from Africa was talking about it today at work, so I checked Google news when I got home today, and there wasn't nothing I could find.

That many dead, seems like there is zero story.

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PostSubject: Re: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Tue May 13, 2008 7:52 pm

Saw the footage of the school that collapsed this morning. Absolutely terrible.

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PostSubject: Re: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Tue May 13, 2008 9:03 pm

Reading on another forum, people are arguing about what God was trying to say with this quake.

Dumbasses. That really irritates me, you know? It's good to have faith and all, but for fuck's sake, it's just a natural disaster. There's no more to it than that.

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PostSubject: Re: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Thu May 15, 2008 12:25 am

I'm watching the news right now, and they are reporting that a bottle of water went from .25 cents, to over $2, over night. That is a f'n joke. HOW can they do that to people in a situation like this?

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PostSubject: Re: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Thu May 15, 2008 12:48 am

Being the resident message board racist, I can tell you that the Chinese race is opportunistic. They take advantage of any situation given to them, and if they don't it's a sign of being weak and stupid.

You think I'm kidding but I'm not.

People are giving aid left right and center, but I haven't heard of any way this aid is being used... to provide people with drinking water, food, a place to sleep, that kind of thing... what's really going on?

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PostSubject: Re: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Thu May 15, 2008 3:49 am

Chinese grapple with homelessness after quake
By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN, Associated Press Writer
Wed May 14, 4:09 PM ET

DUJIANGYAN, China - Li Ande ran a convenience shop, a solidly middle-class citizen in this quiet tourist town, until the earthquake pulverized his store and his home. Two days on, he's squatting under a tarp with seven members of his extended family.

"We've got no choice. Our house is gone," Li said, sitting under the plastic sheet tied to a tree with an umbrella propped up nearby for added shelter. Meanwhile he waits, hoping "the government can do something for us."

While Beijing mounts a military mobilization to rescue people trapped under rubble since Monday's massive quake, the struggle to find food, water and shelter goes on for the survivors.

At least tens of thousands — and perhaps many more — are homeless. Much of the Maryland-sized disaster zone is teeming with refugees crammed into sports arenas, government tent camps or rickety makeshift shelters of plastic sheeting.

The quake made a mess of Dujiangyan, known for charming tea shops along the Min River and a 2,000-year-old dam that kept flooding at bay and helped farming flourish. The ground is littered with building debris, orange peels, soggy newspapers, noodle cups and dog droppings. Tents line parks and any open ground. Toilets are rare.

The government's response to the challenge has been uneven so far. Thousands were staying at a sports arena in Mianyang city, bused there from devastated towns, and some were living in relief tents pitched in tidy rows. But many were forced to fend for themselves.

"I feel lucky," said 44-year-old Zhang Mingfu, who built a wood and plastic shelter with a straw floor along a road in An Xian, where about 30 family members were staying after fleeing a valley where towns were obliterated. "It's the people in the mountains that we are worrying about — they are our relatives."

For now Zhang's stoicism, common among rural Chinese who are accustomed to hard work, seems to prevail. Many survivors blamed the situation on forces of nature and shrugged off questions with a simple "What can you do?" But there were grumbles of discontent that seemed likely to grow if conditions do not improve.

"There's no way we would have to be here for one month," said Tang Yiren, a 66-year-old restaurant security guard who was staying under a red, white and blue tarp in a Dujiangyan park with about 10 co-workers.

Tang said he hoped to return home in three or four days. But his rented apartment was damaged in the quake, its walls cracked.

There has been no official tally of those who cannot return to their homes. The group includes not only those whose homes were destroyed but also people afraid to go indoors and others ordered into the streets by authorities for fear that aftershocks will bring standing buildings down.

The number could easily be in the hundreds of thousands. The Civil Affairs Ministry has said half a million houses collapsed. In Ya'an, a city of 1.5 million, 16 people died but 40,000 were left homeless, state media reported, citing the state disaster relief headquarters.

About 100 families were staying at a tent camp in one Dujiangyan park. Relief workers provided food: crackers, instant noodles and simple boxed meals. Dinner on Wednesday was plain noodles topped with bean sprouts. One man had constructed a makeshift stove with bricks and stir-fried a big mound of fatty pork in a wok.

To pass the time, people chatted and played Chinese checkers until rescuers discovered bodies from a collapsed building 20 yards away from the park.

"The crematorium trucks were here, they were taking the bodies," exclaimed two female colleagues of Tang, the security guard.

A few were trying to find their own housing solutions. At another camp, Yan Liting and her daughter sipped bowls of free rice porridge while helping relatives move their belongings to her undamaged apartment.

"They lost their families and their homes were destroyed," Yan said, sitting on a bundle of clothing wrapped in cloth. "They've been sleeping in makeshift shelters."

Others were simply heading out of town. Fang Bohe and his wife tried to get a ride to the airport in the provincial capital of Chengdu.

"We'll see about coming back sometime," he said. "Until then, we'll stay with my son in Shanghai."

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PostSubject: Re: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Thu May 15, 2008 11:11 am

The people are only receiving TEN PERCENT of what's being sent there for aid. The military/government is keeping 90%. What kind of crap is that?

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PostSubject: Re: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Thu May 15, 2008 12:58 pm

It was on the news today that the Dams in that region have been damaged by the earthquake which if true is really bad news. I always thought dams were menat to be able to withstand all but a 10 on the richter scale or something like that. If it is the case the dams are damaged ( i assume they mean cracked) then you have to juggle priorities between getting people out of buildings and rehousing, feeding, medical assitance etc etc and fixing these dams both are going to cost a hell of a lot of cash.
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PostSubject: Re: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Thu May 15, 2008 8:32 pm

Tiny Bodies in a Morgue, and Grief in China
By JIM YARDLEY
Published: May 15, 2008

JUYUAN, China — The bodies are everywhere. Some are zipped inside white vinyl bags and strewn on the floor. Others have been covered in a favorite blanket or dressed in new clothes. There are so many bodies that undertakers want to cremate them in groups. They are all children.

“Our grief is incomparable,” said Li Ping, 39, eyes rimmed red, as he and his wife slowly, carefully pulled a pair of pink pajamas over the bruised, naked body of their 8-year-old daughter, Ke. “We got married late, and had a child late. She is our only child.”

The earthquake that struck Sichuan Province on Monday has so far claimed more than 19,000 lives across China, and thousands more people remain missing or trapped beneath rubble. But the awful scene at this local morgue is a sad reminder that too many of the dead are children in a country where most families are allowed to have only one.

These children symbolized the earthquake’s seemingly indiscriminate cruelty. But the cruelty, in the eyes of their parents, was also man-made.

Several schools in nearby Dujiangyan collapsed while classes were under way. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao visited two of them, including Xinjian Primary School, where parents say officials told him the death toll was 20 pupils.

“I am Grandpa Wen Jiabao,” the prime minister said as he watched two children being pulled from the rubble, according to Xinhua, the official state news agency. “Hold on, kids! You’ll definitely be rescued.”

But enraged parents interviewed at the morgue on Wednesday afternoon and early Thursday morning say local officials lied to the prime minister to hide the true toll at Xinjian, which they estimate at more than 400 dead children. Several parents blamed local officials for a slow initial rescue response and questioned the structural safety of the school building. They were also furious that officials forbade them to search for their children for two days and then allowed access to the bodies only after the parents formed an ad hoc committee to complain.

“Before Wen Jiabao came, the whole school was filled with children’s bodies,” said one mother who sat outdoors at the morgue with her husband in the early morning darkness beside the covered body of their 8-year-old daughter. “Her father and I had stood outside the school since the earthquake. We pleaded with the government: ‘If she is dead, I want to see the body. If she is alive, I want to see her.’ ”

Her husband, a thin man, leaned forward into the yellow light of two candles. “We’re telling you the truth,” he said. “Get the truth out.”

The morgue is an hour outside Dujiangyan on an isolated rural road, yet the parking lot was filled at 1:50 a.m. on Thursday. Parents and other family members clustered around the bodies of their children. Some burned fake money to bring their lost child good fortune in the afterlife. In one room, 25 small bodies were scattered on the floor. Some children had already been taken away; an empty white body bag lay near a sneaker and a filthy pair of boy’s trousers. Some families had placed flowers or incense inside empty water bottles as makeshift memorials.

“There are more in there,” said a man, pointing to a rear door. He walked outside to a walkway and paused. Scores of bodies, covered with sheets, were lined in two long rows on the concrete floor. Others were placed in an adjacent room. Parents sobbed or sat silently beside bodies.

“They are all students,” said the man in the blue shirt. “Look,” he said pointing to a red and white jacket folded beside one body. “That is the school uniform.” He pointed to a Mickey Mouse backpack. “There is a book bag.”

The two rows of bodies came to an open door that led to the large steel furnaces used for cremation. In China, the dead are almost always cremated fairly soon after death. Usually, there is enough time for funeral ceremonies and rituals, but parents said that officials were worried about cremating so many bodies before they started to decompose. So some parents have been asked if their children can be cremated with dead friends to save time.

Parents say they were only allowed to begin identifying their children on Wednesday. The bodies had remained inside the gated grounds of Xinjian Primary School for two days until officials began transporting them to the morgue on Wednesday.

The earthquake struck at 2:28 p.m. on Monday, and many parents rushed to the school. Xinjian had about 600 pupils, ages from roughly 7 to 12. When parents arrived most of the building had collapsed. They frantically pulled away bricks and chunks of concrete with their bare hands.

“We pleaded with the administrators to help us,” said one mother, Chen Li, 39, who came to the morgue on Wednesday to identify her son, a sixth grader. “We yelled, ‘Where are the soldiers? Send them to help us!’ ”

Parents say neighbors and students from a nearby college arrived by 4 p.m. to help with the digging. Local officials and school administrators also came but then left after inspecting the site. Two more hours passed before a large group of paramilitary police officers arrived and told the parents to leave because the area was too dangerous. Parents were relocated outside the school gate, unable to watch as the officers began digging.

Ms. Chen said her son, Zhang Yuanxin, was discovered the same day as the earthquake but then left uncovered in the rain with other bodies on the playground. She said two trucks arrived Wednesday and carried away bodies shortly before Mr. Wen arrived for his inspection.

“I think there were 50 bodies in two trucks that were carried away,” Ms. Chen said. “I asked those people, ‘Are you taking the bodies away?’ ”

But she said local officials lied to her and said they were only taking away tents.

Parents say they became so angry over the situation at the school by Tuesday that they formed the committee and complained to local officials. Officials in Dujiangyan could not be reached for comment, but parents say the officials relented on Wednesday by moving the children’s bodies to the morgue and providing shuttle buses for people waiting outside the school.

At the morgue on Wednesday, parents walked through rooms lined with bodies on the floor, lifting sheets in the unwanted search to identify a lost child. Cai Changrong, 37, held an urn containing the ashes of his cremated 9-year-old daughter. His wife, Hu Xiu, could not stop wailing.

“We didn’t find any bruises or injuries on her body,” said Ms. Hu, the mother. “But she lost all her nails. She was trying to scratch her way out. I think my daughter suffocated to death.”

Several parents wanted an investigation into the construction quality of school buildings in Dujiangyan. They say six schoolhouses collapsed in the city, even as other government buildings remain standing. One man said officials built two additional stories on the Xinjian school even though it had failed a safety inspection two years ago — allegations that could not be verified.

Mr. Li, the father dressing his dead daughter, also said he believed that the school was poorly built. He arrived at the school minutes after the quake and spent the next four hours searching for his daughter. His forearms were bruised and his fingernails were split and bloodied from digging.

He proudly handed over his cellphone and showed a picture of his daughter, Ke, taken last week. But Thursday morning, he and his wife were preparing for her cremation. They struggled to slip her into the pink pajamas and then dressed her in a gray sweatshirt and pants. Her mother placed a white silk mourning cloth under her clotted black hair.

Mr. Li said he lost his job in 1997 and had been living on a meager welfare payment. He said the school was filled with children from poor families. “My daughter was a very good student,” he said. “She was a quiet girl, and she liked to paint. We’re putting her in these clothes because she loved them.”

He said he was angry and sad. He said his daughter’s body was still warm when he found her at the morgue on Wednesday. He wondered how long she lived beneath the rubble. And then he turned away, leaning down slightly, and whispered in her ear.

“My little daughter,” he said quietly. “You used to dress yourself. Now I have to do it for you.”

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PostSubject: Re: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Thu May 15, 2008 8:36 pm

Quote :
Her husband, a thin man, leaned forward into the
yellow light of two candles. “We’re telling you the truth,” he said.
“Get the truth out.”
Off on a big tangent here, but I like how they just have to point out that her husband was a thin man. It'll be like, "Fuscia, who worse glasses, leaned forward..." or "Whidden, who liked his beer, leaned forward..."

WEIRD.

I'm glad people are questioning the government over their actions. There should have been a quicker response to this tragedy... but China really is a large place.

I actually haven't heard any official statements coming from the Chinese government.

To be honest, they probably see it as a chance to rid themselves of some of the clutter... this is just my thoughts, of course.

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PostSubject: Re: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Thu May 15, 2008 8:38 pm

I think they make **** buildings, and have **** response. They have no free press to say any different.

I just hope the giant dam they got isn't built to the same specs. Communists suck in my book, but no one deserves to get killed like this. I feel for them.

I'm sure the earthquake is mostly to blame, but you just know they didn't have those schools up to earthquake specs like they do in the states.

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PostSubject: Re: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Thu May 15, 2008 8:48 pm

Corners were definitely cut in the building of the dams and buildings.

It's not communism, you know. Taiwan is a democratic Country (according to us, everybody else says we're part of China), and we have the same shit going on... we call it cha-bu-duo-ism.

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PostSubject: Re: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Thu May 15, 2008 8:50 pm

cha-bu-duo-ism


I think that might mean "arrogance plus super cheapness", but perhaps I sterotype?

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PostSubject: Re: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Thu May 15, 2008 8:55 pm

Means "almost" with 'ism' at the end.

It's like... close enough, it'll do.

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PostSubject: Re: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Tue May 20, 2008 8:20 pm

China's post-quake challenge: 5 million homeless

By TINI TRAN, Associated Press Writer 2 hours, 20 minutes ago

AN XIAN, China - China is grappling with the next massive task in the aftermath of its earthquake — how to shelter the 5 million people left homeless.

Many were living Tuesday in tent cities like one at the base of Qianfo mountain in the disaster zone, offering some stability — along with food and medical care — to those whose lives were upended.

"After the quake, we couldn't sleep for five days. We were really, really afraid," said Chen Shigui, a weathered 55-year-old farmer who climbed for two days with his wife and injured father to reach the camp from their mountain village. "I felt relieved when we got here. It's much safer compared to my home."

But there's not enough room to go around.

The government issued an urgent appeal Tuesday for tents and brought in the first foreign teams of doctors and field hospitals, some of whom were swapping out with overseas search and rescue specialists.

The switch underscored a shift in the response to China's worst disaster in three decades from an emergency stage to one of recovery — and for many, enduring hardship.

On the second of a three-day national mourning period, the authoritarian government appeared to be moving to rein in the unusually free reporting it allowed in the disaster's first week. Most major newspapers carried near-identical photographs on their front pages of President Hu Jintao and other senior leaders with their heads bowed — a uniformity that is typical when state media censors direct coverage.

The May 12 earthquake's confirmed death toll rose to more than 40,000, with at least 10,000 more deaths expected, and officials said more than 32,000 people were missing. The State Council, China's Cabinet, said 80 percent of the bodies found in Sichuan province had been either cremated or buried.

Authorities rushed to dispose of corpses, burning them or laying them side by side in pits. Vice Minister for Civil Affairs Jiang Li said officials had begun collecting DNA samples from bodies so their identities could be confirmed later.

Rescues — becoming more remarkable by the hour — continued on the eighth day since the quake, but the trickle of earlier days had slowed to a drip.

A 60-year-old woman was pulled from the rubble of a collapsed temple in the city of Pengzhou 195 hours after the quake, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported. Wang Youqun suffered only a hip fracture and bruises on her face during her eight days in the rubble, Hong Kong-based Phoenix Satellite Television reported, citing air force officer Xie Linglong.

Jiang said 5 million people were homeless and that the government was setting up temporary housing for victims unable to find shelter with relatives. He said nearly 280,000 tents had been shipped to the area and 700,000 more ordered and that factories were ramping up to meet demand. Sichuan's governor said 3 million tents were needed.

In this encampment in An Xian, hundreds of large blue tents dot the flat farmland where rice and barley are being grown. The dried furrows provide orderly markers, lining up the temporary shelters with military precision in the fairly tidy area the size of a football field.

Some 4,600 people are being housed here, 90 percent of them from the mountains around Chaping village, about 20 miles away, which remains cut off by road, said camp director Yang Jianxin.

"All these refugees have lost their homes — their clothes and possessions are buried," he said. "We are doing what we can to help them."

As he spoke, the ground rumbled with the latest of what he said were hundreds of aftershocks felt in the past week. Refugees nearby gasped, and some ran from their tents in confusion, before calm settled after the 10-second tremor.

The entire quake zone is jittery. The Sichuan Seismological Bureau, one day after triggering a panic in the provincial capital of Chengdu by issuing a public warning of major aftershocks, said in a statement Tuesday the city was not a high risk area and was strong enough to withstand big tremors.

In the An Xian camp, more people are expected to show up in the next few days as more survivors make their way down from the mountains, Yang said. Some 500 people are either dead or missing from the Chaping area's main town, which still has about 1,800 survivors living in the mountains, he said.

Many of them, like Chen, made the 10-hour-plus hike down from the mountains with only the clothes they were wearing.

"We didn't sleep until we got here," Chen said. "I carried my father on my back part of the way, and then others helped me carry him down."

The camp has a clinic, food distribution points, toilets, a trash dump, and even plans for a temporary school. A red banner reads "Love is all around. We never feel lonely."

A giant, colorful pile of donated clothing lies in one corner, and dozens of women looking through it. Men in red vests regularly sweep and clean the area. Another area is a donation drop-off for a stream of well-wishers.

Among them was Tan Xuqiong, a 36-year-old teacher with a shiny black Prada bag slung over her shoulder, who came with her 18-year-old son to drop off boxes of water, food, and medicine.

"My hometown was only slightly affected. When I see these people living like this, I think it's so miserable. The contrast is shocking," said Tan, who is from Deyang city.

Each person in the camp receives regular daily rations: three bottles of water, a package of instant noodles, bread, and some crackers. Families also received small radios and copies of the local Mianyang Daily newspaper.

Loudspeakers regularly blare announcements about hygiene and reminders to get daily health checks — a precaution against possible disease outbreaks.

The clinic is staffed by eight physicians and six nurses — all volunteers with China's Red Cross. Running from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., the medical staff sees about 1,000 patients a day, said Dr. Ye Mao, a 51-year-old orthopedic surgeon from Guangdong province.

"The biggest problem is the density of the camps. If an infection breaks out, it can spread very quickly," he said. No outbreaks have been reported.

After initially refusing foreign help, China is now allowing in medical and rescue teams. A Russian mobile hospital arrived Tuesday in the provincial capital of Chengdu, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said, and other medical teams were headed in from Taiwan, Germany, Italy and Japan.

The disaster has raised some sensitive issues for the government about building standards, especially for schools, and about whether authorities did enough to reach survivors quickly.

Xinhua reported Tuesday that 129 students and 10 teachers who were trapped in the village of Xu Yong were flown out two days after local officials said all outlying villages had been reached.

Chen, the farmer, said refugees in his camp are getting what they need to survive, and they are grateful for the help despite the crowded conditions. His family shares a tent with 10 other people.

His 46-year-old wife Liu Yingchun was wistful: "I still feel bad because I can't forget all the things we lost. I used half my life to get all this and then suddenly I've lost everything. I don't know if I can ever get back what I had."

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PostSubject: Re: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Tue May 20, 2008 8:21 pm

That's like just under 1/4 of the population of the whole of Australia left homeless.

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PostSubject: Re: China quake death toll rises to about 10,000   Tue May 27, 2008 9:40 pm

Zhang Angry at Ignorant Cannes Attendees

Actress Ziyi Zhang was left enraged during her visit to France's Cannes Film Festival, when she encountered a group of people who knew nothing about the recent Chinese earthquake, which has devastated her native country. The Memoirs of a Geisha star turned her trip to Cannes into a fundraising mission in a bid to raise money to help the victims of the quake, which measured 7.9 on the Richter scale when it struck China earlier this month. She even made a pamphlet about the natural disaster, which has left almost 60,000 dead and more than five million homeless. Zhang has made a personal donation of $144,000 to help the relief efforts, and has also secured a $100,000 pledge from media tycoon Rupert Murdoch's wife Wendi Deng, who was born in China. But the 29-year-old was shocked when she came across a group of festival-goers who were ignorant of world events. Recalling the meeting, she says, "I was as angry as a madwoman. I said, 'Are you idiots? You are well-dressed people who look like you identify with society, but you don't know what's going on on planet Earth.' It's incredible!"

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