'Times' Reporter in China: Grim Scene Near Epicenter In China, rescue workers have been digging through flattened homes and schools in a desperate search for victims of China's worst earthquake in three decades. Mark Magnier, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, says "with each passing hour, it's getting more and more difficult."
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'Times' Reporter in China: Grim Scene Near Epicenter

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'Times' Reporter in China: Grim Scene Near Epicenter

'Times' Reporter in China: Grim Scene Near Epicenter

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

We're going to get another eyewitness account now. Mark Magnier reports for the Los Angeles Times. Hello, how are you?

Mr. MARK MAGNIER (New York Times): Hi, how are you?

MONTAGNE: Tell us where exactly you are.

Mr. MAGNIER: I'm in Mianzhu, which is about 45 miles as the crow flies from the epicenter.

MONTAGNE: And what are you seeing around you really right at this moment?

Mr. MAGNIER: What we're seeing essentially is there's no power, there are dozens, hundreds of people living in tents by the side of the road and in traffic circles. There's a hospital that we just visited. It's only about 10 years old, but it's suffered very, very badly, and they've had to move all of patients. Last night they spent the night in the courtyard in the cold, and tonight they've got some tents that they've (unintelligible) in the rain. But it's pretty bleak.

MONTAGNE: Is there any way to tell from that hospital how many wounded have come in?

Mr. MAGNIER: This area has saw about 1,000 deaths. They've had to move the worst cases to the regional hospital in Chengdu, and so what's left are people that are too old to move or that had abrasions and some of these other things.

MONTAGNE: Are people there still buried under the rubble?

Mr. MAGNIER: Yes. They are buried under the rubble. As - you know, as you can imagine, with each passing hour - I think you spoke about the school earlier. Yesterday at that school, where I was this morning, they were getting probably 20 living coming out, and today it was almost nothing. I think that's probably pretty typical. With each passing hour it's getting more and more difficult.

MONTAGNE: Are people getting help that you can see? Are Chinese officials sending in aid?

Mr. MAGNIER: Yes. I think - from what I can see, the premiere, Wen Jiabao, tried to visit the worst area and was himself unable to because the road is so bad and - so he has made a priority of fixing this road by midnight tonight, which is in just a few hours here, with the idea that if you can't clean the artery you're not going to be able to fix the body.

And so he has made that an absolutely priority, because without that you can't get any emergency aid and health and everything else. And so - so those areas that have been at the very most isolated have still not received aid, but I don't think that's a function of resources. That's a function of just inaccessibility.

MONTAGNE: Well, thank you very much for stopping and talking to us.

Mr. MAGNIER: Thank you.

MONTAGNE: Mark Magnier reports for the Los Angeles Times and he was speaking to us from Mianzhu, near the epicenter of China's earthquake.

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