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Government Officials Head to Quake Site in Tibet

China's central government is sending officials to Tibet to join in relief efforts after the area was hit by a strong earthquake on Monday afternoon.

The work group consists of officials from China's Ministry of Civil Affairs and Ministry of Finance. It left Beijing for Tibet on Tuesday morning, the State Disaster Relief Commission said.

An earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale jolted Damxung, 82 km from Lhasa, at 4:30 PM on Monday. The epicenter was 29.8 degrees north and 90.3 degrees east. The area was hit again by an aftershock which measured 5.2 magnitude at 8:10 PM on Monday.

Ten people were killed and 34 injured. At least 147 houses collapsed, according to the commission.

Tremors were felt in Lhasa, but no major damage was found in buildings or at historical sites, such as the famed Potala Palace and the Jokhang Temple.

PLA troops stationed in Lhasa were among the first to arrive after the quake. They helped people out of the ruins, pulled out dead bodies and visited every family to count missing.

The Tibet Autonomous Region government has launched an emergency response system and at least 700 rescuers are at the site. Health workers are examining villagers and sanitizing the area to prevent epidemics.

Tents, food and water are now being trucked in to the villages hit by the earthquake after rescuers opened a main road on Tuesday.

(Xinhua News Agency October 7, 2008)

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