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Press Release 2008/05/21 - Wenchuan Earthquake: 41353 dead, 274683 injured, 32666 missing; 70 billion yuan allocated for reconstruction
[Released in New York at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, 21 May 2008]


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For Immediate Release
Press Section
May 21, 2008

Quake death toll rose to 41,353
274,683 injured; 32,666 missing
70 billion yuan allocated for reconstruction


  1. Quake death toll rises to 41,353 on Wednesday. Over 4,000 children quake-orphaned.
  2. Premier Wen: 70 billion yuan (over 10 billion U.S. dollars) earmarked for reconstruction of quake-hit regions in 2008. Quake not to change fundamentals of economy.
  3. Donations to China quake zone hit 2.3 billion U.S. dollars, 9 days after earthquake.
  4. 45,000 medical workers treating survivors and 5,200+ working on epidemic prevention.
  5. 77 people rescued in the past 36 hours. 2 survivors rescued after 216 hours.
  6. 25,681 being medically treated. 6 charter flights arranged for transporting injured.
  7. Over 12,200 miles of damaged roads repaired and reopened to traffic. 89% homes have access to electricity again.
  8. Donations to China's quake-hit areas reached 16 billion yuan (2.3 billion U.S. dollars), on May 21, Wed. 9 days after quake. 
  9. Italy offers mobile hospital, USAID to donate rescue equipment, U.S. firms give US$30 million to China to support China's quake relief efforts. Chinese defense minister thanks Japan for quake aid.
  10. China releases list of medicine, medical equipment urgently needed.
  11. 15 satellites of 9 types used for quake relief.
  12. 98% victims likely to have residence in a month. Quake-affected migrant workers receive pension.
  13. 98.6% of the public satisfied with government's relief efforts.
  14. 11th Panchen Lama prays for quake victims.
  15. Bank offers preferential loans for earthquake reconstruction.

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Quake death toll rises to 41,353: By 12:00 a.m. on Wednesday, 21 May, the numbers of earthquake dead, injured and missing rose to 41,353, 274,683 and 32,666 respectively.

Premier Wen: 70 billion yuan for reconstruction of quake-hit regions

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced on Wednesday the central government will allocate 70 billion yuan this year for the establishment of a reconstruction fund for the quake-hit regions. He also pledged to arrange funds for the reconstruction in next two years.

Donations to China quake zone hit 2.3 billion U.S. dollars, 9 days after earthquake: As of Wednesday noon, donations to China's quake-hit areas reached 16 billion yuan (2.3 billion U.S. dollars) and 1.764 billion yuan had been forwarded to these areas, according to Xinhua.

Over 4,000 children quake-orphaned: The number of quake orphans has risen to 4,000 by Wednesday according to preliminary statistic data, Chen Kefu, deputy director of Sichuan Civil Affairs Department said during a news conference held on Wednesday, Xinhua reports.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Quake death toll rose to 41,353 on Wednesday: The death toll from China's devastating earthquake rose by 1,278 to 41,353 as of Wednesday noon, according to the Information Office of the State Council. Another 274,683 people were injured and there were still 32,666 missing in the aftermath of the 8.0-magnitude quake that hit southwestern Sichuan Province on May 12.

45,000 medical workers treating survivors and 5,200+ working on epidemic prevention: With the increasing number of deaths and the coming summer, the quake disaster regions are facing mounting pressure to prevent epidemics though no epidemic outbreak or serious mass health accident had been reported yet. Thousands of medical workers are on the scene. Medical teams with about 45,000 members were working in all quake-hit counties and townships in Sichuan as of Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Health. Among them there were more than 5,200 people in charge of epidemic prevention, and about 1,196 tonnes of disinfectants and bactericides were distributed, the ministry said in a statement.

  • In 7 out of the 11 worst-hit counties, sanitation work has been fully implemented and in the other four, one third of the townships have been covered.
  • According to local health departments, doctors found 58 cases of gas gangrene, a bacterial infection that produces gas within gangrenous tissues, as of Sunday. But officials said the cases were not epidemic and will not affect people without open wounds.

77 people rescued in the past 36 hours:

  • Rescuers are still fighting time to find survivors. According to the Department of General Staff of the People's Liberation Army, rescuers saved and evacuated 396,811 people from the quake-hit areas to safe places as of Wednesday noon, about 36,000 more than the figure by Monday midnight.
  • A total of 6,452 survivors have been dug out from the rubble since the rescue task started and 77 were rescued in the past 36 hours. The Ministry of Health said that 3,424 people injured in the quake had died in hospitals as of Wednesday noon.

25,681 being medically treated: The hospitals have taken in 59,394 injured people since the quake. By noon on Wednesday, 30,289 people had recovered and been discharged while 25,681 were still being treated, the ministry said.

Power had been restored in most parts of quake-hit areas but Beichuan County, one of the worst hit ones, remained blacked out and Hongyuan had seen its electricity cut off again due to aftershocks, the State Electricity Regulatory Commission said in a statement.

Over 12,200 miles of damaged roads have been repaired and reopened to traffic. According to China's Transport Ministry, roads damaged in the quake totaled 28,829 kilometers (17,913.5 miles), and 19,645 km (12,206.8 miles) had been repaired and reopened to traffic as of Wednesday. 3,053 bridges of different sizes were damaged in quake zone.

As of Wednesday noon, donations to China's quake-hit areas reached 16 billion yuan (2.3 billion U.S. dollars) and 1.764 billion yuan had been forwarded to these areas, according to Xinhua.

Premier: quake not to change fundamentals of economy: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said on Wednesday that the May 12 earthquake had added new uncertain factors to the nation's economy but the fundamentals of the economy remain unchanged.

98% victims likely to have residence in a month: The Sichuan provincial government held a press conference yesterday, saying that it will try its best to build 98% of the earthquake victims a safe, affordable and comfortable home within a month, according to Chengdu Evening News.

China: more tents from international community preferred: Foreign Ministry said May 21 that quake-hit people were in urgent need of more tents, and China hopes that the international community could provide more tents, according to Xinhua.

Italy offers mobile hospital to China: Italy will offer a mobile hospital to China to help with the quake relief work, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday. The hospital includes five tents, a generator and a full set of equipment necessary for complicated surgeries.

U.S. firms give US$30 million to support China's quake relief efforts: Major U.S. companies have been actively contributing to the relief efforts in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Sichuan, China, a U.S. business community leader told Xinhua Tuesday. 80 U.S. companies have contributed to the relief efforts, with the cash donations amounting to over 30 million U.S. dollars.

USAID to donate rescue equipment to China quake zone: The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing more than 815,000 U.S. dollars in additional disaster relief assistance to China, according to Xinhua.

Chinese defense minister thanks Japan for quake aid: Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie Wednesday expressed gratitude for Japan's aid to China for rescue and relief efforts in quake-hit Sichuan Province, according to Xinhua.

China releases list of medicine, medical equipment urgently needed: The State Food and Drug Administration, China's drug watchdog, has released a list of pharmaceutical products and medical equipment urgently required for rescue and relief operations. It also calls for continuous supervision of donated drugs and medical equipment while rescue and relief operations are still in urgent need of donations. Specific medical equipment is needed: cardiac monitors, bedside X-ray machines, X-ray films, plasters and bandages, and ventilators. The effort also needs single-use laryngoscopes, gauze, femoral intramedullary nails, tibial interlocking nails, ordinary compression plates, orthopedic external fixation supports, wound dressings, air cushion beds and rubber drainage pipes. Other medical items urgently needed include: beds, mattresses, quilt covers, cotton wadding, pillows, portable beds, and wheelchairs. A wide range of drugs are also urgently required, including: penicillin. Disinfectants include: effervescent tablets, bleaching powder, euchlorine, and sprayer. Donations can be made to the Sichuan provincial quake relief headquarters, which can be contacted by telephone: 8628-86139526, 8628-86138790

15 satellites of 9 types used for quake relief: State Administration of Science Technology and Industry for National Defense said on May 21st that thanks to the advantage of high technology, it made special contribution to quake relief work. By now 15 satellites of 9 types have been used to support quake relief efforts.

33 imprisoned lakes in quake zone safe: Zhu Bing, deputy director from Water Resources Department of Sichuan Province said on Wednesday in a news conference that the 33 imprisoned lakes formed during the quake in Sichuan areas are no threats at the moment.

Two survivors rescued after 216 hours: At about 2:30 p.m. on May 21, soldiers of the Air Force and Dr. Qin Shangzhen, a neurosurgeon from Guangzhou Military Command Wuhan General Hospital, successfully saved two victims who had been trapped in rubble for 216 hours. One of them named Cui Changhui, aged 38, was extricated from a water diversion tunnel in Jinhe Hydropower Plant, in Hongbai township, Sichuan Province, near the epicenter of the 8.0-magnitude quake. She suffered severe bone fractures and was in critical condition. But after emergency treatment, her condition is getting stable and she is being sent to Chengdu Huaxi Hospital for further treatment.

CEA send over 100 to monitor quake areas: China Earthquake Administration has sent over 100 people to monitor quake-intensive areas and set up more than 60 quake monitoring centers, according to Xinhua News Agency.

More than 10,000 medical workers in Sichuan disaster areas: The number of medical workers sent to Sichuan disaster areas has increased to 10,708 by Wednesday May 21. In addition, 5,252 anti-epidemic workers have started their work of preventing epidemic diseases there. No major epidemic diseases have been reported so far.

600,000 tents badly needed in Mianyang: The Red Cross is calling for donation of tents for the homeless earthquake victims in Mianyang City, Sichuan Province. It is estimated that 600,000 tents are urgently needed. Contact information for donation: For donation of materials, please send them to Mianyang Red Cross organization, and its postcode is 621000. For donation of cash, please send the money to Mianyang Red Cross organization through Bank of China, and its account number is 820907105208092001.

Plastic cloth and mosquito net badly needed: Water-proof plastic cloth and mosquito nets are badly needed in the disaster areas. In addition, tents are still in shortage.

89% homes have access to electricity again: The number of homes that had a power failure due to the earthquake in Sichuan Province amounted to 2.5 million, according to Xinhua. But now, 1.43 million have access to electricity again, accounting for 89% of the total 1.61 million that need repairing.

Quake-affected migrant workers receive pension: Migrant workers in Beijing whose families are affected by earthquake could receive a pension of 1,000 yuan per person from local Labor and Social Security Department, according to the Beijing News.

Kids from quake-hit areas to arrive in Beijing: "The Caring Parents" project launched after the earthquake has enabled some kids from the quake-hit areas to live in temporary families in Beijing, according to the Beijing News. More than 1,200 families have volunteered to take care of those kids, but they have to go through several strict interviews. The list of those kids will be released by the end of May.

Beichuan County temporarily closed for potential epidemic: Beichuan County was closed yesterday to prevent potential epidemic, according to earthquake relief headquarters of Beichuan. Rescue teams have been temporarily evacuated. The headquarters has transferred 5,000 sets of anti-chemical suits to ensure the safety of rescue personnel.

98.6% of the public satisfied with government's relief efforts: A survey conducted by Central University of Finance and Economics shows that 98.6% of the interviewees are satisfied with the relief efforts China's governemt has made during Wenchuan earthquake, Jinghua Times reports. The University gets the conclusion after interviewing 620 people in Beijing over phone. Of which, 460 from downtown and 160 from Beijing suburbs.

11th Panchen Lama prays for quake victims: The 11th Panchen Erdeni Gyaincain Norbu presided over a prayer meeting in Beijing on Wednesday, in which he prayed for peace in the areas struck by a magnitude 8 earthquake on May 12. The meeting, held in Yong He Gong (the Lama Temple), lasted more than an hour, during which the 11th Panchen Lama read Buddhist scriptures to ward off the disasters and bring good luck for the earthquake victims.According to the Information Office of the State Council, the devastating earthquake in southwest China's Sichuan Province claimed 40,075 lives nationwide as of 6 p.m. Tuesday.

A prayer meeting is an important religious service of the Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhists, in which the monks read Buddhist scriptures to avert calamities and bring blessings.

Rumor of strong quake in Shaanxi & Gansu refuted: On Wednesday, China refuted the rumor that 7 magnitude or above earthquake would hit northwest of China's Shaanxi Province and Gansu Province in the coming two weeks. China's authorities said the rumor is unfounded and neither China Seismological Bureau nor Bureau of Seismological from Unitized States has ever done any of such forecasts.

6 charter flights arranged for transporting injured: Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) Wednesday arranged 6 charter fligts from Air China, Shenzhen Airlines, Sichuan Airlines as well as United Eagle Airlines to transport injured people from Chengdu, Mianyan to Guangzhou and Liuzhou for further treatment.

Dams safe but risks remain: Most of the lakes and damaged dams in Sichuan are currently safe but face the danger of heavy rain and aftershocks in the next few days, according to Mr. Li Chengyun, vice-governor of Sichuan province. 21 lakes could breach their banks, and efforts are being made to reduce the risks. China's National Meteorological Bureau has forecast moderate or heavy rain - 13 to 30 mm - to hit the disaster areas in the next three days. The Sichuan earthquake administration said there is still the possibility of severe aftershocks.

  • The government is aware of the danger of floods caused by lakes bursting their banks, and had taken steps to reduce the risks. Two experts and soldiers have been assigned to each lake and dam to keep a 24-hour watch. The government also has plans in hand to evacuate people downstream should the need arise. In some places, troops and construction teams have been deployed to divert the flow of water from the lakes and dams.
  • In 1933, three newly formed lakes burst their banks 45 days after an earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale struck Diexi in western Sichuan, he said. Floods extended 250 km to Dujiangyan, killing 2,500 people.
  • Chai Hejun, a researcher with the Chongqing Institute of Transportation Design, said 21 percent of the new lakes could breach within a day, 48 percent within 10 days and 88 percent within a year.
  • Gu Junyuan, chief engineer with the State Electricity Regulatory Commission, said on Monday that all of the hydropower stations along the upper reaches of the Minjiang River, a major river running through the quake-hit areas, were "quite safe".
  • The hardest-hit area, which has 29 dams, is located in a valley in the upper reaches of the river, he said. Most of the dams are solid gravity dams or gate dams, which are strong enough to sustain overflowing water. Five hydropower stations where the earthquake's epicenter was located are relatively small, with a total storage of 1.5 million cubic meters. "Even if there are some problems with these dams, we have the giant Zipingpu Reservoir downstream of the Minjiang River," Gu said. "With a storage capacity of 1.1 billion cu m, it has the capacity to contain the runoff from some of the damaged dams." The Zipingpu Reservoir is now operating properly after sustaining some minor damage during the earthquake.

Bank offers cut-price loans for earthquake reconstruction: On May 20, China Construction Bank announced preferential lending policies for post-disaster reconstruction projects. Low interest RMB loans will be made available to finance earthquake relief efforts and reconstruction. For individual housing loans the rate will be set 15 percent lower than the benchmark rate. For other loans, it will be set 10 percent lower than the benchmark rate.

  • The bank also announced that penalties for late repayment of existing loans will be waived if repayment difficulties are due to the earthquake. This measure will apply to individuals and enterprises, RMB and foreign currency loans.
  • As regards to late repayment of overdrafts and credit card debts due to earthquake disruption, the bank announced that the interest-free period will be extended, and in some cases the interest will be reduced or waived.
  • Existing loans that are diverted to reconstruction projects or relief work will be exempt from late repayment penalties but will not be eligible for the new preferential interest rate, so the original interest rate will still apply. For other types of local and foreign currency loans allowed a repayment grace period because of the earthquake, the interest rate will be implemented according to the original contract deadline.
  • China Construction Bank said it will continue to announce adjustments to its policies in light of the situation in disaster areas and will continue to provide financial services to those in urgent need, to support relief efforts, and post-disaster reconstruction work.


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