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Thousands of Chinese Quake Victims Flee Possible Flooding


Chinese officials have ordered thousands of people to evacuate a village near the epicenter of Monday's earthquake, amid conflicting reports that a dam has burst.

Witnesses say they are not sure whether the dam near Beichuan in the northern part of Sichuan province has failed, or whether a lake has overflowed its banks.

Authorities increased the official death toll Saturday to nearly 29,000. The actual number of dead is expected to surpass 50,000. Some 5 million people have lost their homes.

On Friday, a strong aftershock measuring 5.9 triggered landslides on recently-cleared roads leading to Wenchuan county, again cutting off roads and communications.

The aftershock is likely to further hamper search-and-recovery efforts, as chances of finding survivors in the rubble of Monday's 7.9 magnitude quake diminish with each hour.

The official Xinhua news agency says rescue workers pulled a German tourist out of the rubble Saturday after being buried for 114 hours.

State media said rescuers pulled 33 survivors from the rubble Friday. But few of the tens of thousands who remain buried are expected to be alive.

Also Friday, the United Nations announced a grant of $7 million dollars in emergency funds to meet the urgent needs of quake survivors.

Officials fear many of the dead are children who were trapped when their schools collapsed during the earthquake. China's Housing Ministry has launched an investigation into the reason nearly seven thousand school buildings collapsed in the quake.

Supplies are short and China's health care system is struggling to cope with the nearly 190,000 people who are injured.

Foreign rescue teams are arriving in China to assist the 130,000 troops deployed in the affected areas.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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