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President Hu Deals with Devastating Quake in NW China

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Chinese President Hu Jintao explained to several foreign leaders why he had to cut short his visit after a deadly earthquake in northwestern China's Qinghai province.

"At this difficult time, I need to return to my country urgently, to be together with the people of China, pitching in with the earthquake rescue efforts," Hu said to the leaders.

A 7.1-magnitude quake struck the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu on Wednesday, killing at least 1,144 people and leaving 294 missing and 11,486 injured. About 100,000 people have been relocated.

When the tragedy was reported to Hu, he had just attended the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. Hu held an urgent meeting to analyze the sudden quake.

Hu urged all-out efforts to save lives and provide assistance to people in the disaster zone. He also asked authorities to step up precautions to ward off potential risks of aftershocks and called for efforts to safeguard social stability in the quake-hit region.

Hu ordered the urgent mobilization of planes to transfer quake relief workers to the disaster areas, and dispatched soldiers there for aid.

He proposed the reduction of the Brasilia-held summit of BRIC, which groups Brazil, Russia, India and China, shortened his visit to Brazil, and postponed a trip to Venezuela and Chile.

The leaders of Brazil, Russia and India all expressed understanding of and support for China's proposal and agreed to compress the original two-day summit into a one-day event.

Hu cut back his stay in Brazil to April 14-15 from the scheduled period of April 14-17.

Brazil, Russia and India all sent condolences to the quake-hit zones in Qinghai province.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Wednesday extended deep condolences to Hu over victims of the devastating quake while pledging assistance in dealing with the aftermath.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva expressed deep condolences to Hu over the tragedy during their meeting.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sent a special messenger with a letter of condolences to the Chinese delegation in Brasilia.

During their meeting on the sidelines of the BRIC summit, Singh said the Indian people were sorry to hear about the devastating earthquake and expressed deep condolences to China.

In order to inform the Venezuelan and Chilean sides of the situation, Hu held telephone talks with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera late Wednesday night and called Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at midnight.

Hu told Pinera and Chavez he had to postpone visits to their countries due to the quake in northwestern China.

Pinera said he fully understood and backed up Hu's decision to return home earlier, and expressed condolences and sympathy for the heavy casualties on behalf of his government and people.

Chavez said he fully understood Hu's decision to postpone his visit to Venezuela, and also sent his condolences and sympathy. He said Venezuela would like to offer all necesary assistance to the quake-torn areas.

On Thursday, the last day of his visit, Hu attended as many as 10 bilateral or multilateral activities, during which he talked about the Qinghai earthquake frequently and closely followed the latest updates on the disaster relief work.

From the distant land of South America, President Hu's heart went out to his countrymen, who were fighting the disaster.

On Thursday night, Hu embarked on his plane and began a 25-hour flight back home.

(Xinhua News Agency April 17, 2010)

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