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Quake Orphans Estimated Under 2,000

China's Ministry of Civil Affairs has said that children orphaned by the Sichuan massive earthquake would be under 2,000, although local governments have not yet verified identity of all unclaimed children.

Zhang Shifeng of the ministry said on Friday that there are more than 1,000 such children, including those who lost their parents during the earthquake, whose identities have not yet been verified, and orphans who have already been claimed by their surviving relatives.

The 8.0-magnitude tremor in Sichuan Province claimed at least 69,130 lives, left another 17,824 missing, injured 374,031 people and made millions homeless.

"Our numbers are all but precise due to ineffective communication with the most remote areas hit by the quake," Zhang said.

"We have not yet successfully contacted some mountainous villages after the quake," he said.

He said the ministry will do what it can to facilitate the adoption of the quake orphans, though the work has to wait until the exact number of orphans is worked out.

He also said the Sichuan Provincial Civil Affairs Bureau will take the major responsibility in handling adoption cases.

Shortly after the quake happened, people from both home and abroad showed intention of adopting quake orphans, while making huge donations to the quake-hit areas.

(Xinhua News Agency June 7, 2008)

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