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Children Suffer Hugely In China's Earthquake

Children Suffer Hugely In China's Earthquake

The number of fatalities from China's earthquake is reported at 11,921 with almost 7000 hospitalised and 60,000 unable to be reached. The numbers are likely to climb once communications are restored.

Zhang Hong, Director of Support Services for Save the Children in China says: "Children suffered hugely from the impact of this quake when it struck mid-afternoon while they were gathered in schools. Old and weak buildings also mean that the students affected are spread over an extremely large area. Near the epicenter, around 60%-80% of buildings have been destroyed."

The Civil Affairs Bureau (which is coordinating emergency response), and the Education Bureau in Chongqing have asked Save the Children to provide tenting, tables, chairs, pens and other school materials. The agency will asses the numbers of schools affected.

Zhang Hong continues: "It's terrible to watch as school after school is reported collapsed, and to see children being rescued from under the rubble. The panic among the children as the quake struck caused stampedes as schools were evacuated by teachers.

"Save the Children has been asked to help get these children back into school a logical area for us to work on seeing as we have staff in the country already. Schools are supposed to be safe areas for children. We must try to reinstall some normality back into their lives as soon as we can."

Communications, electricity and roads are down in the area closest to the epicenter. Rail lines have been ruptured and mobile phone towers are down. There are currently around 50,000 of China's rescue and relief forces helping with the relief work, some of whom walked 72 kilometres to get to the epicenter, down roads impassable to vehicles. While the relief effort from the government has been massive and rapid, the full extent is still being assessed, including the impact on children who were particularly vulnerable while at school during the quake.

160 kilometres northeast from the epicenter in Beichuan county, 100 high school students and teachers are reported dead or missing

In Dujiangyan, a city neighbouring the epicenter, 900 children are still feared buried in the quake. In the same area, 420 pupils of Xianghe Middle School were buried when their school collapsed. It's believed around 370 of these students have died.

81 students are also confirmed dead in Shifang city, with a further 920 believed trapped in the rubble. In another school 30 kilometers from the epicenter, 200 pupils were trapped by the rubble when their school toppled.

In Deyang and Aba Prefecture, also near the epicenter, several schools have collapsed, though casualty details are not yet available.
In Chongqing's outer Liangping County, more than five students were killed and 100 injured when two schools collapsed.

[Ends]

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