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China seals off quake town over epidemic fears: report

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) June 28, 2008
One of the towns worst hit in last month's devastating China earthquake has been sealed off to prevent epidemics from spreading, after having been opened just briefly, state media said Saturday.

More than 600 police officers have been posted around southwest China's Beichuan town, which was nearly flattened in the May 12 quake, to prevent anyone from entering, Xinhua news agency reported.

Tan Jiamin, Beichuan county's head of police, said the empty city would remain closed down for "a long time" because the rising temperatures increased the risk of epidemics, according to Xinhua.

Beichuan, a town of about 12,000 which lost half its residents in the disaster according to Xinhua, was reopened only recently.

The move was to allow people to go back to their former homes to find vital possessions left behind after last month's quake.

However, the chaotic scenes that followed once the town was reopened forced authorities to close it down again.

"Some local residents were digging for their family members with their bare hands, which can easily cause infection," Tan told Xinhua.

Contaminated carcasses could trigger diseases like avian influenza, encephalitis B and rabies, while the earthquake may also heighten the risk of infection of anthrax or tetanus, earlier reports said.

The death toll from the earthquake, China's most lethal in a generation, stood at 69,186 as of Friday noon, while 18,457 were counted as missing, according to Xinhua.

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Epidemics emerge as major threat in China's quake zone: report
Beijing (AFP) June 18, 2008
Infectious diseases are emerging as a major threat in China's quake zone, with injured and traumatised victims most at risk, the health minister was quoted as saying Wednesday.

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