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China Responds To 6.9 Magnitude Earthquake

China is responding to a major earthquake that injured thousands of people Wednesday in the country’s Tibetan region, the Associated Press reports. The U.S. Geological Survey measured the initial earthquake at a magnitude of 6.9, the news service reports.

The state-owned CCTV “said the death toll had risen to 617 by late morning Thursday, with more than 9,000 injured – including 970 seriously – and around 300 still missing. The Ministry of Civil Affairs said about 15,000 houses had collapsed and 100,000 people need to be relocated,” the news service writes. “President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao urged ‘all-out efforts’ to rescue survivors and dispatched a vice-premier to supervise the effort. The government immediately allocated $30 million (200 million yuan) for relief, and mobilized more than 5,000 soldiers, medical workers and other rescuers, joining 700 troops already on the ground,” according to the AP (Chang, 4/15).

China’s Civil Affairs Ministry and State Disaster Relief Commission Wednesday initiated a “first-class emergency response” for the Qinghai Province, Xinhua writes. “The first class emergency response means relief funds allocated by the country’s financial departments should be delivered to quake-hit areas no later than 24 hours after the quake. Relief materials should be sent to the affected areas by train or airline as quickly as possible. Also, a nationwide donation campaign should be organized, and worldwide collections should be put under centralized management,” Xinhua reports (4/14).

According to the AP, some quake survivors were forced to spend the night outside, “where temperatures fell below freezing and aftershocks continued, residents said. With limited medical supplies and doctors, survivors with broken limbs could do no more than wait for help.”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the White House joined other world leaders, including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in conveying messages of sympathy to China (Chang, 4/15).

Clinton said the U.S. was “ready to assist” China, Agence France-Presse reports. “On behalf of the American people, I offer sincere condolences to the families who lost loved ones in this morning’s earthquake,” Clinton said Wednesday. “Our thoughts and prayers are with those injured or displaced, and all the people of China on this difficult day.”

The article also includes quotes from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, who also offered condolences (4/14).

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