China: 1,144 dead, 80,000 homeless

UPDATED: With threat of freezing temperatures, a rush to find survivors

The official death toll is mounting in China, where earthquakes struck on Thursday. State media reported Friday that at least 1,144 died in the quake and that 417 are still missing; 11,477 people are reported injured and estimated 80,000 have lost their homes. The quakes (the strongest reaching a 7.1 magnitude, according to China’s earthquake administration) hit in a mountainous area of western China. There, rescue teams continue to dig‹often with bare hands—for survivors trapped under the rubble. Yang Xusheng, of China’s Red Cross Society, says they’re running out of time. “Temperature may drop below zero in the evening,” Yang warns. He also notes that the remote western areas are nearly inaccessible to rescue workers (it takes 12 hours to drive to the mountains from the main airport). The high altitude also complicates efforts, and some rescue workers are already showing signs of altitude sickness. Hundreds of bodies have been gathered for a mass cremation.

The Globe and Mail


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