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Rescue Equipment, Relief Goods Airdropped to Epicenter

Chinese air forces succeeded for the first time at 8:20 PM Thursday in airdropping "large-sized rescue equipment" to Wenchuan, epicenter of Monday's earthquake, according to military sources.

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake in southwest China's Sichuan Province had killed 19,509 by 4:00 PM on Thursday.

The rescue equipment would improve the efficiency of rescue missions carried out by the army, the sources said, without identifying the equipment.

As of 6:50 PM Thursday, Chinese army and armed police personnel had reached all 58 counties and townships severely damaged in Monday's quake.

By midnight Thursday, the Chengdu Military Area Command had used 34 helicopters to airdrop 145 tons of food, medicine and other emergency relief goods to the quake-hit areas in 113 flights.

A total of 35 tourists from the United States were also rescued by the helicopters.

In addition, the PLA dispatched a remote control plane for surveillance of the quake-hit areas centered on Wenchuan County, epicenter of Monday's 7.8-magnitude quake.

The remote control plane covered an area of 5,000 square kilometers during its 33-hour flight, and send back over 2,800 gigabytes of imagery data of 400 square kilometers of the quake-hit areas by 10 p.m. Thursday.

The Chengdu Military Area Command has also airdropped 50,000 packets of food, 25,000 pairs of shoes, 5,000 cotton-padded quilts and 54,000 articles of clothing to epicenter Wenchuan and its neighboring counties.

According to a decision by the disaster relief headquarters of the State Council, 30 more transport aircraft would be sent to these areas for disaster relief operations including airdrops.

(Xinhua News Agency May 16, 2008)

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