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'Thousands' dead or buried in China factory town: Xinhua

by Staff Writers
Chengdu, China (AFP) May 13, 2008
"Several thousand" people were killed or buried in a southwestern China town where a major factory collapsed after a powerful earthquake, state-run Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday.

The report, which gave few other specifics on the casualty numbers, said the disaster occurred when a steam turbine factory collapsed Monday in the town of Hanwang in Mianzhu city.

"The earthquake has killed or buried several thousand in the area," the Xinhua report said, without specifying where all the casualties occurred.

However, the report elsewhere suggested they had occurred at the factory.

A separate report by the official China News Service said at least 60 people were confirmed dead at the factory while more than 500 were unaccounted-for.

At the time of the 7.8-magnitude quake, about 5,000 to 6,000 workers were working in the factory, it said.

The town is located about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the quake's epicentre, the reports said.

Casualty reports in the quake aftermath have been nearly impossible to confirm due to communications problems in the region and occasionally conflicting state press accounts.

The overall death toll from the quake has risen to nearly 10,000, state media reported on Tuesday.

The quake struck close to densely populated areas of Sichuan shortly before 2:30 pm (0630 GMT) on Monday.

It is the worst to hit China since the 1976 earthquake in the city of Tangshan near Beijing, which claimed 242,000 lives, Xinhua has said.

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Tens of thousands dead or missing in China quake
Dujiangyan, China (AFP) May 13, 2008
China was reeling Tuesday from its worst earthquake in three decades which left tens of thousands of people dead, missing or trapped under crushed houses, schools and factories.

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