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Melissa Block

Earthquake Aftermath Observations

A few glimpses of the aftermath of the Chinese earthquake, as portrayed in Chinese media:

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao pictured in Sichuan newspaper photo. hide caption

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State-run Chinese television is running lots of footage showing squadrons of soldiers in green camouflage fatigues, and rescue teams in orange jumpsuits. They're seen headed toward the earthquake zone — some with shovels, some with large backpacks, some running onto huge military transport planes. The footage is often accompanied by a dramatic soundtrack — heroic music that wouldn't be out of place in a Spielberg film score.

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao is in charge of directing the relief operation; he flew here immediately after the earthquake struck. He's seen often on TV, calling out to people in devastated areas, "As long as there is a glimmer of hope, we will continue the rescue operation!" A photo of him is on the front page of the Chengdu newspaper today. He's in the badly-hit town of Yingxiu, standing over a bandaged survivor lying on a stretcher on the ground.

This strip reads: Don't believe rumors! Don't spread rumors!" hide caption

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DON'T BELIEVE RUMORS

The Chengdu paper's front page also has a red banner column that warns its readers "Don't believe rumors! Don't spread rumors!" Stories have spread — disseminated by text message or blog or old-fashioned word of mouth - that dams have collapsed, and that the water supply here in Chengdu is contaminated. The Xinhua news agency reports that 17 "malicious rumor-mongerers" have been punished for spreading "false information, sensational statements, and sapping public confidence."

Red donation boxes have been set up on sidewalks here in the provincial capital, Chengdu, and along the route of the Olympic torch as it works its way across China. On television, you see long lines of people passing by the boxes, stuffing wads of 100 yuan bills into the slots. Red Cross workers are shown bundling the bills into huge stacks.

And — thankfully — amid all the unspeakable destruction, there are images of survival. State-run television shows footage of a young woman trapped under rubble, about to be rescued. "I have always believed that you would come save me," she tells the soldiers.

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