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Chinese Troops Fan Out Across Sichuan to Assist Earthquake Victims


Tens of thousands of Chinese troops are fanning out across China's Sichuan province in response to a massive earthquake that killed nearly 15,000 people.

The military began airlifting quake victims Wednesday from Sichuan's Wenchuan county, the epicenter of Monday's 7.9 magnitude earthquake. The injured are being taken to the largest hospital in Sichuan's capital, Chengdu.

Military planes and helicopters also air-dropped more than 12 tons of food and medicine to the affected areas Wednesday.

But authorities say there is much more work to be done. Officials estimate nearly 26,000 people remain buried under collapsed homes, schools and other buildings across Sichuan and surrounding provinces. They say the death toll is expected to rise.

The earthquake hit the town of Yingxiu, in Wenchuan, particularly hard. A local government official told the state-run Xinhua news agency that only 2,300 of the town's 10,000 residents survived.

China's official Xinhua news agency reports that $125 million in cash and goods for earthquake recovery efforts have been donated by government leaders, the public, private companies and overseas Chinese.

Corruption is rampant across China, raising concerns about the use and destination of donations. But disaster relief authorities say they will allow public supervision of how the funds are used.

In the past, the Chinese government has kept tight control over the media coverage of natural disasters and illnesses. But Monday's quake has received unprecedented coverage.

Foreign journalists have been granted access to the worst-hit areas, and video images are being broadcast around the world of collapsed buildings and sobbing families.

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