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No news from county at epicentre of China quake: Xinhua

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) May 12, 2008
There has been no news from the county in southwest China at the epicentre of a deadly earthquake, more than nine hours after the disaster struck on Monday, state press reported.

All lines of communication had been cut with Wenchuan county, which has a population of 112,000 people, Xinhua reported, adding rescue teams had been unable to reach there because the roads had been destroyed.

The lack of news from Wenchuan raises the prospect of the death toll rising dramatically, as Xinhua has already reported thousands of deaths in nearby areas of Sichuan province.

"We are doing everything we can, but the roads are blanketed with rocks and boulders," Xinhua quoted Li Chongxi, a Communist Party official, as saying.

Li was leading a rescue team trying to reach Wenchuan, Xinhua reported, but was stranded at Dujiangyan city about 40 kilometres (25 miles) away.

Xinhua's dispatch went out around 11:30 pm.

The quake, with a magnitude of 7.8, struck shortly before 2:30 pm (0600 GMT) on Monday.

More than 8,600 people have been killed, Xinhua said in previous reports, quoting government officials.

In Sichuan alone, 8,533 were killed, Xinhua said, citing the local government.

In Sichuan's Beichuan county, which is close to Wenchuan, the number of deaths was estimated at more than 3,000, with 80 percent of the buildings there destroyed, according to Xinhua.

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UN to Myanmar: 'Act now or more lives will be lost'
Bangkok (AFP) May 12, 2008
The United Nations said Monday it was still awaiting two-dozen visas for its foreign staff to enter Myanmar, and that the regime had to act fast to prevent more deaths in the aftermath of a cyclone.

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