04/16/2010, 00.00
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Death toll from Qinghai earthquake climbs. Wen Jiabao visits

The death toll has risen to 791 deaths, with nearly 300 missing. But some Tibetans speak of thousands of corpses. The prime minister visits to push the emergency crews to spare no effort. Hu Jintao cancels trips to Venezuela and Chile to return to the country.

Yushu (AsiaNews / Agencies) - More than two days after the earthquake that devastated the Tibetan region of Qinghai, the death toll has risen to 791 this morning, while at least 294 people are missing. The number of injured has also jumped to 11,486, of which more than a thousand very serious.

The rescue teams are trying to work round the clock to reach survivors still buried under the rubble, but the most pressing issue is how to give shelter to tens of thousands of homeless people. Zhou Ming, a member of the Ministry of Civil Affairs, said that "the number of tents [available] is sufficient, but the main problem is the difficulty of transport. It will take time for all the tents to arrive in the affected area". Zou said he hoped that the situation will be resolved in two days. Meanwhile thousands of people are sleeping rough, with temperatures below freezing.  

Yesterday Premier Wen Jiabao arrived in the province, to visit survivors and to support the rescue teams. "To save people - he said - we should spare no effort ... especially in the next 72 hours, please try as hard as possible."  

Among the people who help bears there are also many Tibetan monks. Many dead are piled up near the monastery of Gyegu pending burial. Some monks allegedly collected thousands of corpses, putting in doubt the official figures of the disaster.

Pregnant women were transferred to the provincial capital, Xining, after two of them gave birth in tents in front of the overflowing hospital in Gyegu.  

President Hu Jintao cancelled a visit to Venezuela and Chile and has cut short his tour of Brazil to return to oversee the country's response and aid to the population of Qinghai.

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See also
Qinghai quake: survivors complain about the lack of relief supplies
Earthquake in Sichuan: over 10 thousand victims, epicentre still isolated
Qinghai quake: 617 dead, schools down, people digging with bare hands
Caritas Thailand sending first aid shipment to Nargis victims
Death toll rising in Qinghai quake


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