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Food, Drinking Water, Cold-proof Goods Badly Needed in Quake Zone

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Food, drinking water, and cold-proof tents, quilts and clothes are in short supply in the remote, mountainous Chinese town flattened by a devastating earthquake earlier this week, a local official said Saturday.

At least 1,144 people died after the earthquake struck the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu, Qinghai Province, at dawn Wednesday. About 11,744 people were injured, with 1,192 of them in a serious condition. Many are believed buried under piles of debris.

Impoverished Yushu, home to 100,000 people, sits 4,000 meters above sea level. Nighttime temperatures here can easily drop to freezing.

Geng Yang, provincial civil affairs chief, told a press briefing Saturday a lack of relief supplies is still the biggest challenge. He said more than 20,000 charcoal stoves are on there way to the quake zone to allow residents whose homes have been destroyed to cook food and stay warm.

Over the past three days, more than 10,000 soldiers, police, medical workers and volunteers were mobilized nationwide to join the rescue operations. Thousands were pulled out from the rubble, but many of the survivors had to rough it in the open air due to the lack of shelter and relief supplies.

National civil affairs authorities have prepared 41,540 tents, 159,240 cotton coats, 188,210 quilts, 100,000 portions of field food, 185 tonnes of food, 400 mobile homes, 20,000 camp beds, and 500 mobile toilets for the victims of the quake. All the relief supplies are en route to the quake zone, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said Friday.

But getting to Yushu, about 800 km from provincial capital Xining, is difficult. Few planes can land at Yushu's small airport and sandstorms sometimes stop the flow of trucks coming from Xining.

Geng said authorities are "doing their best" to meet the needs of the quake's victims.

(Xinhua News Agency April 17, 2010)

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