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    Reporters Without Borders said in it’s 2005 special report titled “Xinhua: the world’s biggest propaganda agency”, that “Xinhua remains the voice of the sole party”, “particularly during the SARS epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.”
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China earthquake toll could above 50,000, hundreds of reservoirs in danger

Posted by Author on May 15, 2008

AFP, May 15, 2008-

YINGXIU, China (AFP) — China said Thursday that over 50,000 people had likely died in the devastating earthquake that hit its southwest as time runs out to save survivors buried in the rubble of broken communities.

Experts said the search-and-rescue operation was entering its most crucial phase yet four days after the 7.9-magnitude quake struck, with the chances of finding survivors diminishing by the hour.

“The deaths are estimated to be over 50,000,” state television said, citing figures from the national quake relief headquarters.

The epic scale of Monday’s quake is becoming clearer as teams hike into the remote epicentre in Sichuan province, where whole towns were levelled.

“If there are some survivors under such conditions, it would be a matter of luck, or a miracle,” said Zhang Zhoushu, vice director of the state-run China Earthquake Disaster Prevention Centre.

Yet amidst the tragedy , miracles did occur.

In Yingxiu, a town at the epicentre, rescue workers pulled an 11-year-old girl out of the rubble 68 hours after the quake demolished her school, an AFP reporter who made it into the stricken community witnessed.

Rescuers were sifting through the debris when they heard a voice.

“It’s wonderful, she’s alive!” a delighted onlooker shouted as the girl was pulled out on a stretcher and given a small cup of water.

China has rebuffed most foreign offers to send rescuers, but said Thursday it would accept a Japanese team flying in with sniffer dogs.

“Most people are saved in the first three or four days,” Willie McMartin, director of the British-based charity International Rescue Corps, told AFP in Hong Kong where his team is trying to get permission to enter China.

“People can survive up to 15 days, but that is when you are talking about miracles, and miracles do not happen very often.”

Sichuan officials upped the confirmed death toll there to more than 19,500, but several tens of thousands more are missing or entombed in debris.

As the military ramped up its rescue efforts with more troops and aircraft, a new threat emerged from creaking dams and reservoirs shaken by the quake.

State-run television said authorities had found “dangerous situations” at more than 400 reservoirs — two of them major — across five provinces.

Underlining the desperate efforts, China launched a mass public appeal for thousands of shovels, hammers and cranes, saying some rescuers were having to shift huge concrete slabs by hand to get to survivors……. (more details from AFP: China says quake toll likely above 50,000)

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