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Chinese Rescuers Fight to Save Thousands Buried in Massive Quake

  • VOA News

Prospects for finding survivors of Monday's devastating earthquake in China are dwindling as rain hampers rescue efforts.

Rescuers pulled dead bodies and survivors from the rubble of collapsed buildings in southwestern Sichuan province Tuesday.

Thousands of people spent a second night outside due to fears of aftershocks and collapsing buildings.

The official death toll from the seven-point-nine magnitude earthquake is nearly 13-thousand, as rescue teams assess damage near the quake's epicenter in Wenchuan county.

Nearly seven-thousand of the deaths were in Beichuan county and other areas near (/ administered by) Mianyang, where another 18-thousand people are believed to be buried under collapsed buildings. Mianyang, Sichuan's second-largest city, is home to China's nuclear weapon design industry.

More than 50-thousand troops have been sent to assist with relief work in quake-affected areas, but China has said conditions are not right for international teams to come in and help.

The United States says it will contribute 500-thousand dollars to China in earthquake relief aid. Other countries have pledged assistance, and international aid agencies say they also are prepared to help.

US President George Bush spoke with Chinese President Hu Jintao about the earthquake. Mr. Bush voiced his deep concern and said the United States is willing to provide any needed help.

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, also issued a statement expressing his deep sadness and offering prayers for those who died and were injured during the quake.

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