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China Quake Death Toll Jumps to 51,000


The official number of people dead from a powerful earthquake in southwestern China has risen to more than 51,000. With more than 30,000 people still missing, the casualty numbers are expected to continue climbing. Stephanie Ho reports from Beijing.

Chinese officials originally said they thought the number of people killed by the Wenchuan earthquake would approach 50,000.

State Council spokesman Guo Weimin says that number has been surpassed.

He says, according to China's Civil Affairs Ministry more than 51,000 people are dead, more than 280,000 others are injured and more than 29,000 people are still missing.

State-run Xinhua News Agency reports emphasize one successful rescue Wednesday. There are no similar reports for Thursday.

China's State Council says the government has allocated $2 billion for disaster relief work - more than double the figure announced a day earlier.

The disaster has sparked generosity. The State Council says overall donations have reached $3 billion.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters China still urgently needs more than three million tents.

He says quake survivors also need blankets, clothes, food, communications equipment and emergency rescue equipment.

Meanwhile, the China Disabled Persons' Federation says it is cooperating with the foundation of Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka Shing to provide free artificial limbs and wheelchairs to quake survivors who need them.

State media say hundreds of technicians from 180 centers will be working to create the artificial limbs for disabled quake survivors.

Meanwhile, the Olympic torch relay has resumed its journey in the eastern province, Zhejiang. The relay was suspended for three days as part of a national mourning period for the quake victims.

The Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee has postponed the portion of the torch route that was scheduled to go through quake-hit Sichuan Province. Now, instead of in June, the Olympic flame will go to Sichuan August 3, the last stop before it comes to Beijing. The Olympic games begin August 8.

Chinese media say there is a proposal that children who survived the earthquake be chosen to light the Olympic cauldron. Beijing Olympic organizing committee officials say they have not yet decided who will light the flame or how they will honor the quake dead.


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