May 17th, 2008
---Chinese President encourages quake victims to overcome difficulties
According to Xinhua News, Chinese President Hu Jintao Friday afternoon arrived in Beichuan County of Mianyang City where he immediately called a meeting and went among the local people affected by the southwest China earthquake, encouraging them to be confident in overcoming hardships caused by the disaster.
"The whole Party, army and all the people have been mobilized to support the quake relief work," he said. He encouraged the victims to be strong, overcome difficulty with confidence, courage and strength.
"We will make every effort to rescue stranded people, treat the injured and make proper arrangements for the victims, as well as helping you to rebuild your homes."
Hu arrived at the disaster area of Mianyang City at Friday noon after more than two hours of flight from Beijing. In the meeting room of the airport, he and Premier Wen Jiabao discussed the quake-relief work.
The meeting said "rescuers must reach not only towns but also all villages." The survivors who had been rescued must be transferred to safer places in time, and children who lost their parents and elders who lost their family members in the quake must be properly cared for.
When meeting with the soldiers, President Hu praised the troops conducting rescue work in Beichuan Middle School and said "You came to the frontline immediately, and threw yourself into the rescue work regardless of your own safety and made a great contribution. "You have given hope, confidence and strength to the quake-affected people," he said.
The President also went among the field clinics and medical locations such as the Mianyang City Central Hospital, to soothe the injured and told the medics to make every effort to treat the injured.
When he visited the Nanhe Sports Center, where more than 10,000 disaster-affected people were settled, he thanked the volunteers for their contribution to the rescue work.
On Friday morning, Premier Wen Jiabao told Chinese media on a train in Sichuan that saving lives remained the top priority almost four days after the quake. He told the press that a total of 100,000 army and policemen together with other rescue workers have been sent to the quake-hit areas from all over China. Over 100 helicopters have been working in the rescue. "We won't give up if there is even the slightest hope of finding more survivors," he said.
Premier Wen left Sichuan for Beijing in the afternoon of May 16th after 5-days in the rescue front to direct the relief work. During the 5-days, the Premier went to all the quake-stricken counties in Sichuan despite the danger of the aftershocks.
---Central gov't departments in China continue efforts in quake relief
Various departments of China's central government continued their work in disaster relief on May 16th after a 7.8-magnitude quake jolted Wenchuan County in southwest China's Sichuan Province.
The Ministry of Finance on Friday set aside another 1.17 billion yuan (167 million U.S. dollars) for disaster relief. The move brought the total money earmarked from the central budget so far for quake relief to 3.41 billion yuan.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) ordered to publish psychological counseling manuals to help students of primary and middle schools in quake-hit areas against mental problems.
The books should be sent to the students before June 1. Colleges under the MOE, which have the psychology department, should provide psychological counseling through hotlines or the Internet. The China Education Television and China Education News should establish columns for psychological experts to help quake-affected students.
The Communist Youth League of China and the National Youth Working Committee and called on juvenile volunteers and experts to help with psychological counseling work to quake-affected children.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection said Friday that 31 drinking water sources in 11 cities and counties in Sichuan, including Mianyang, Deyang, Guangyuan, Dujiangyan, Mianzhu and Beichuan, have been tested safe to drink.
The ministry had inspected more than 10,000 companies and factories to clear environmental safety risks.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs on Friday required local bureaus to accommodate survivors properly and built shelter centers to provide relief supplies to them.
As of 5:00 p.m. Thursday, 2,610 shelter centers had been established in quake-stricken areas to provide relief supplies to survivors, the ministry statistics showed.
The ministry had allocated more than 180,000 tents, 220,000 quilts and 170,000 cotton-padded clothes to the quake-hit areas as of 2 p.m. Friday. In the meantime, the ministry is planning to arrange adoptions of quake orphans, with the number of homeless children increasing and more concerned organizations and individuals proposing for adoption. The orphans are currently taken care of by local governments.
The State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) said it was stepping up efforts to ensure safety of drugs and medical equipment donated by domestic companies to quake victims.
So far, 170 million yuan worth of medicine and medical equipment has been donated by drug manufacturers under coordination of the SFDA.
The Ministry of Land and Resources and the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping successfully took photos by air over quake-affected populated areas in Sichuan. The information would be handed in for disaster relief and rebuilding.
The Supreme People's Court ordered courts at all levels severely punish those who spread rumors in accordance with laws, to ensure social stability.
The General Administration of Press and Publications extended regards to the reporters working in quake-hit areas, praising their contribution to the disaster relief work
---China quake death toll rises to 22,069:
The death toll from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake in southwest China's Sichuan Province rose to 22,069 nationwide as of 2 p.m. Friday, while 168,669 people were injured, according to the emergency response office of the State Council.
A rescue headquarters headed by Premier Wen Jiabao under the State Council had said on Thursday that it feared total death toll of Monday's quake could top 50,000.
Nearly 100 hours after Monday's powerful quake, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen on Friday again urged continued efforts in quake rescue and relief work and giving top priority to the saving of people's lives.
A meeting held between the two Chinese top leaders said the previous relief work had been progressing orderly and effectively, which paved a smooth way for the following work.
In face of the pressing time, uttermost efforts must be made if only there exists the slimmest hope of survivors, the meeting said.
There were still aftershocks in the afternoon of May 16th in Lixuan county. Some of the roads between Lixuan County and Wenchuan County were again blocked by mountain-slides. The rescue teams are doing their best to get the barriers away. The good news is that some of the trapped are still alive after 116 hours and were rescued.
By May 17th morning, quite several rescue teams and flights with rescue food and equipments from foreign countries and Chinese regions have arrived in the Province, including those from Japan, Russia, South Korea, Singapore, Spain, etc.
---China sends experts to assess reservoir damage in quake-hit Sichuan
China's Ministry of Water Resources on May 16th dispatched nine emergency repair teams to Sichuan to assess the conditions of reservoirs after Monday's massive earthquake.
The teams, with more than 100 experts, would be sent to six hard-hit regions, including Mianyang, Deyang and Aba, to check the situation of dikes, reservoirs and hydropower plants.
They would assess the damage and draw up plans to prevent secondary disasters or evacuations, if necessary, the ministry said.
The ministry had set up a command center for disaster rescue and relief operations and sent 71 water resource experts to seven quake-stricken provincial regions amid concerns that the weakened dams might collapse.
Minister Chen Lei warned Thursday that Sichuan, where the epicenter is located, has a large number of reservoirs, many of which have sustained significant but still unknown damage.
According to the ministry, the Zipingpu dam, near the quake epicenter in Wenchuan County, is structurally stable and safe despite some minor damages.
Other key water projects in Sichuan, including the more than 2,000-year-old Dujiangyan irrigation system, the south-to-north water diversion project and the Three Gorges Dam are all reported safe.