Chinese Still in Danger from Flooding, Landslides

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Following Monday's devastating earthquake, the Chinese government says it expects the final number of dead to surpass 50,000. On Sunday an aftershock rattled buildings and sent people into the street and a nearby dam is in danger of collapsing. Officials released water from dams and reservoirs to reduce danger of flooding and landslides.


Nearly a week after a devastating earthquake hit China, rescuers continue to pull survivors out of the rubble. The death toll from the quake now stands at nearly 32,500, and more than 220,000 people injured. But the threat of further disasters in the form of aftershocks - flooding or even nuclear accidents - threaten to make matters worse.

NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Chengdu.

ANTHONY KUHN: Early this morning a major aftershock rattled buildings here and sent residents into the streets again. In hard-hit Beichuan County, thousands of residents fled the area yesterday after the government warned that a nearby dam was in danger of collapsing. Sichuan provincial officials say that the earthquake triggered landslides that blocked rivers in 21 places. The government says that it's released water from dams and reservoirs to minimize the threat of flooding.

The official Xinhua news agency said that the government has carefully inspected nuclear weapons facilities and laboratories in Mian Yang City and found them to be safe. But scientists and staff at the sites remain on high alert for possible nuclear accidents.

International aid continued to flow into China. Today two U.S. Air Force cargo planes landed at Chengu's airport with a shipment of food, blankets, generators and hand tools. Rescue teams from Taiwan, Japan and South Korea have arrived and begun looking for signs of life in the rubble.

In the past 24 hours, rescuers have saved more than half a dozen survivors. At a cabinet meeting in Beijing, the central government decided to pay out $715 in compensation to each family that lost members in the quake. It also announced that within the next three months it will begin handing out grain rations and a daily stipend of $1.40 to needy survivors in the disaster area.

Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Chengdu.

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