CHINA'S EARTH QUAKE KILLS 50,000 LEAVES 5 MILLION HOMELESS
MAY 16 2008
Luke 21:11 And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.
Luke 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass,...your redemption draweth nigh.
The earthquake in China has left almost five million people homeless, officials said today.
A total of 4,807,200 people have been forced into “temporary shelter” in Sichuan, said Li Chengyun, the province’s vice-governor.
The figure is comparable to the combined population of Greater Manchester and the West Midlands.
More than 50,000 people are estimated to have died in Monday’s 7.9-magnitude earthquake, China’s deadliest natural disaster in a generation.
The extent of the homeless problem became known only today, another provincial official said.
“Before today, communications and roads to some cities and counties in the province were cut off because of the quake,” the official said.
“That’s why the number has increased so fast now that links have been restored with the cities and counties.”
The news came as the Chinese government vowed to investigate why so many schools collapsed following the earthquake.
Education officials today threatened punishment for anyone found responsible for shoddy building work.
Thousands, possibly tens of thousands of children have been among the dead of the earthquake, the biggest single group of victims in almost every town and village affected.
In some cases, their schools collapsed about them even though neighbouring apartments blocks, often of much older construction, survived relatively unscathed.
In an unprecedented act of openness, state media acknowledged the angry grief of parents, while officials from the education and housing ministries joined in an online discussion.
”If quality problems do exist in the school buildings, we will punish those responsible severely and give the public a satisfactory answer,” Han Jin, head of the ministry of education's planning department, said on the state-run site.
They were compelled to act by the open criticism displayed on websites, to say nothing of the very visible criticisms of parents often still standing outside the schools where their children lay buried.
”Our child wasn't killed by the earthquake. She and the others were killed by a derelict building. The officials knew it was unsafe,” said Bi Kaiwei, whose 13-year-old daughter died in one school in Mianzhu county.
In Hanwang town nearby, many parents told The Daily Telegraph earlier this week that the school had been condemned but the factory to which it was attached had been slow to replace it.
In Yingxiu near the earthquake epicentre in Wenchuan county, where the primary school was among many buildings totally destroyed, a weeping mother sat silently by the school gate, staring at the rubble.
”I would like to try and get her out myself,” she said of her only child, an 11-year-old daughter, who was still buried.
Forty small corpses lay under basic covers in the school courtyard.
The government said that 6,900 classroms so far were known to have been destroyed, before taking into account schools yet to be reached.
Although official rescue work had been abandoned at the school in Yingxiu, where the government earlier estimated about 8,000 deaths in total, there was still hope elsewhere.
One child was pulled out alive today, 80 hours after the quake from a school in Beichuan, another particularly badly affected town, along with three people from other buildings there.
According to the state news agency, one other girl was found still alive but in a coma, her hand still clutching that of her dead friend.
The government now puts the official death toll at 21,500 but predicts it will rise maybe as high as 50,000.
President Hu Jintao visited the scene of the rescue operation, which was hit by a major aftershock registering 5.9 on the Richter scale.
The shock was felt down the Wen river valley at the epicentre of the earthquake, bringing more landfalls and burying cars.
One building destroyed was a rebuilt mobile phone mast, intended to reconnect the area to the outside world.
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