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Press Release 2008/05/14 - Vigorous rescue and relief efforts are made around the clock as earthquake death toll rises to 14,866
[Released in New York at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, 14 May 2008]




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For Immediate Release

Press Section
May 14, 2008



Earthquake death toll rises to 14,866

Rescue and relief going around the clock


  1. An earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale hit Wenchuan County in southwest China's Sichuan Province at 2:28 p.m. local time (06:28:04 UTC) on Monday, 12 May 2008.  The epicenter of the quake was located at 31.0 degrees north latitude and 103.4 degrees east longitude. Wenchuan (population 111,800), 146 km northwest of Sichuan's capital Chengdu, hosts Wolong Nature Reserve, China's leading giant panda research center.
  2. Within 5 hours, Premier Wen Jiabao was on his way to quake-hit province and an Earthquake Disaster Relief Commanding Headquarters was established by the State Council, China's Cabinet, with Premier Wen serving as its head.
  3. President Hu Jintao has immediately made quake relief Chinese Government's top priority. 
  4. Death toll rose to 14,866 by 2:00 p.m. Wed. May 14.  Death toll may continue to rise.  No foreigners have been reported killed or injured in the earthquake.  Press Conferences on Rescue & Relief efforts are held on a daily basis by the Information Office of the State Council to keep the world informed.
  5. Disaster relief efforts are going around the clock, involving over 50,000 armed police and army troops. China has parachuted rescuers and airdropped relief goods to cut-off quake area. To disaster-hit regions, Health Ministry has dispatched 1,056 medical personnel and Civil Affairs Ministry has sent 127,000 tents, 220,000 quilts and 170,000 warm coats.
  6. Olympic torch relay has been downscaled after the devastating quake.
  7. Donations to quake-hit areas hit 125 million U.S. dollars, as of 4:00 p.m. Wed. May 14.
  8. Water quality in quake-hit areas remains unchanged, China's state grain reserves reported safe, oil companies vow to ensure oil supply and disaster-stricken areas maintain stability.
  9. Air China sends planes for stranded tourists in quake-hit Sichuan Province.
  10. China's 86 giant pandas in the Wolong National Nature Reserve and Panda Breeding Center have all survived the earthquake.


Rescuers are racing against time to find survivors after the strongest earthquake to hit China in 32 years jolted the country's Sichuan province, demolishing buildings and burying tens of thousands beneath the rubble. People in many other parts of China also reported tremors. The quake was felt as far away as Beijing, Shanghai, Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan. The destructive earthquake unleashed an enormous amount of energy, comparable to that of 256 atomic bombs. As of 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, the cities and towns within a radium of 300 kilometers to the epicenter have experienced over 3300 aftershocks, 57 of which measuring 4 or higher on the Richter scale (39 shocks between 4.0 and 4.9, 15 shocks between 5.0 and 5.9, and 3 quakes measuring 6 or higher). Shattered roads, persistent heavy rain and landslides in Wenchuan County and the nearby area have hindered rescue efforts.

Within hours of the earthquake, President Hu Jintao ordered all-out efforts to help those affected by the quake and Premier Wen Jiabao flew to the disaster-hit area to oversee and direct the rescue work. The Chengdu Military Area Command has dispatched troops to help with disaster relief work.

The State Seismological Bureau (SSB) has sent a team o