300 dead, 2000 injured in deadly China quake

Beijing (dpa) - The death toll rose to more than 300 and the number of injured had climbed past 2,000 by Tuesday in a powerful earthquake that struck the far western Chinese region of Xinjiang Monday morning, local officials and media reports said.

"We do not have exact numbers yet,'' a member of the rescue party in Qiongku'erqiake told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa by telephone. The search for survivors in the rubble continues.

More than 10,000 people in the hardest hit region of Qiongku'erqiake were left completely homeless as temperatures dropped below freezing Monday night. The quake destroyed 8,800 homes, Xinhua news agency said.

Emergency supplies were slow in reaching the isolated region east of the commercial centre of Kashgar on the old Silk Route.

"We need food, tents and blankets,'' reported the functionary in Qiongku'erqiake.

It is the largest earthquake disaster in the autonomous region of Xinjiang since the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949. The provinces of Bachu and Jiashi, with a population of 360,000, were particularly heavily hit.

In Bachu's Qiongku'erqiake township, 231 people died, including at least 20 students at a middle school that collapsed during the earthquake, a township disaster relief official told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa by telephone.

More than 10,000 people in Qiongku'erqiake alone had to camp outside. Many did not return to their houses for fear of aftershocks and because of damage to their houses.

Most of the injured are being tended to in temporary established hospitals which are in short supply of medicine and medical instruments.

Tents, padded blankets and coats were on their way with the emergency supplies, reports said.

The earthquake measured 6.8 on the Richter scale. An aftershock that measured 5.0 on the Richter scale hit in the early morning hours causing fear among the already traumatized people.

A special earthquake team of 42, including specially trained physicians and 5 search dogs, arrived at the disaster site in Xinjiang on Monday evening.

dpa lw pr pw DAviaNewsEdge

Copyright (c) 2003 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 02/25/2003 00:05:49


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