China again seeks help after big quake

BEIJING The temblor Saturday in Sichuan province, which the U.S. Geological Survey measured at magnitude 5.7, struck along the same fault line as a May 12 earthquake that killed nearly 70,000.

"We need temporary houses ... we need more than 10,000 tents," said Zhang Hai, head of the foreign liaison office of the Communist Party propaganda department in Panzhihua city. "This is a mountainous place and so we can't build temporary houses everywhere."

The beginning of the school year, which was supposed to be Monday, was postponed for a week because authorities were inspecting damage in classrooms, he said.

"We still can't bring all kids back to their previous classrooms," Zhang said.

China is still basking in the glory of hosting an extravagant and widely viewed Olympic Games that International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge called "truly exceptional." But the earthquake underscores the country's need to turn its attention back to pressing domestic issues such as high inflation, pollution, and now disaster relief.

The quake killed five people in Panzhihua and surrounding rural areas, and the death toll also included 25 victims in Sichuan province's Huili county, local officials said. Authorities in the Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture in neighboring Yunnan province reported six deaths.

"We are trying to maintain order and make sure that there's enough supply. The disaster relief office has sent 17 medical teams made up of over 200 people," said Song Ming, an official in the propaganda department of Liangshan prefecture, which includes Huili county.

Saturday's quake killed 33 people, state broadcaster China Central Television said on its noon newscast. The temblor destroyed 258,000 homes, damaged major bridges and cracked three reservoirs, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Local officials told The Associated Press they did not have any information on the reservoirs or whether the damage might place people in danger.

Xinhua said 467 people were injured by the earthquake, which struck 20 miles southeast of Panzhihua city in the southwestern corner of Sichuan. A 5.6-magnitude aftershock struck just one minute later, the USGS said.

About 152,000 people were evacuated in Sichuan province and relief efforts were under way, despite being hampered by heavy rains and the region's rugged terrain, Xinhua said. It said 6,200 tents, 3,500 quilts and 55,000 pounds of rice had been sent to the quake zone.

Since the 7.9-magnitude May 12 temblor, the region has been hit by scores of aftershocks.

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