50,000 now feared dead in China quake

Thursday 15 May 2008 22.26
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Sichuan - 19,500 confirmed dead in quake
Sichuan - 19,500 confirmed dead in quake
Dujiangyan - Thousands take part in relief effort
Dujiangyan - Thousands take part in relief effort
China - Extra troops to aid rescue effort
China - Extra troops to aid rescue effort

China has said it believes more than 50,000 people have died in Monday's earthquake.

'The deaths are estimated to be over 50,000,' state television said, quoting the national quake relief headquarters, which also said confirmed deaths had reached 19,509.

China has imposed temporary controls on the prices of food and transport in areas affected by this week's 7.9 magnitude earthquake, to prevent profiteering, hoarding and speculation.

And Beijing has finally announced it will accept rescue teams from Japan, having previously rejected any foreign offers of help.

More troops and helicopters are being sent to Sichuan province to help the rescue operation following Monday's earthquake.

Troops and helicopters will bring food and water to an estimated 10m people affected by the tremor.

The Chinese government has appealed to the public to donate basic equipment to help in the rescue operation.

Ireland has pledged €1m to help earthquake relief efforts in China.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin made the pledge after a meeting with the Chinese ambassador in Dublin Liu Biwei.

Mr Martin told the ambassador that Ireland's rapid response corps could also be used in the relief effort. The corps was created last year to respond to international crises.
 
The aid pledge will be channelled through the International Federation of the Red Cross.

About 130,000 army and paramilitary troops are now involved in the search and rescue effort, sifting through towns turned to rubble.

Three days after the quake, hopes of pulling survivors from the ruins are dimming and the waves of rescuers appear to be hampered by lack of specialised equipment.

Many survivors are staying in refugee camps without adequate shelter, food or clean water.

More than 12.5 tonnes of relief goods have been airdropped and scores of helicopters are flying in rescuers and aid.

China's national tourism authority said nearly 900 overseas  tourists were stranded but believed to be safe, while a Chinese  military helicopter flew 33 visitors from Britain, France and the US out of the area.