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Damage assessment on Yushu Quake to be launched

BEIJING, April 19 -- As relief work continues in the Tibet Autonomous prefecture of Yushu, more details about the huge operation have been released.

Wednesday's earthquake killed 1,484 people, leaving another 312 still missing. The State Council Information Office held a fourth press conference today, and Zhang Yajing has the details.

The Director of the disaster relief department for the Ministry of Civil Affairs, Zou Ming, says relief materials continue to pour into Yushu, in addition to the 25 thousand tents and 850 tons of food and drinking water that has already arrived.

The central government has mobilized nearly 7 thousand tons of grain reserve to the area.

Compensation is also reaching quake victims, particularly the orphans, disabled and seniors.

The focus of the work in the coming days will include continued rescue operations and treating victims. Another challenge will be dealing with bodies that respect traditional customs. An objective assessment of the damage will also be carried out, to ensure the rebuilding of houses and the efficient use of relief funds and materials.

Responding to questions on why some material has been delayed, Director Zhou says the high altitude has been a major challenge.

Zou Ming, Dept. Director of Ministry of Civil Affairs, said, "Transportation has been challenged by the high altitude, delaying some of the relief materials. We are trying every effort to ease the problem, and it is getting better now."

Meanwhile, the China Seismological Bureau gave further information on the rescue efforts. An official says as of Saturday, 15 thousand rescuers are working at the site.

Miao Chonggang, Official, China Seismological, said, "They rescued a total of 17 thousand people. 6,870 of them were found under the rubble, with 6,110 surviving. Rescue work has covered 30 places in the quake-hit area, and have located 85 dead bodies."

Officials say the government will maximize its efforts to guarantee life returns to normal for residents living in the quake zone, and that reconstruction work will begin as soon as possible.

Director Zou from the Civil Affairs Ministry says it will depend on the results of damage assessment and further geological survey. To determine whether Gyegu Town will be relocated during the reconstruction work.

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