DANDONG, China (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong-il appears to have entered China, his destitute state’s biggest benefactor, for a rare trip abroad that could defuse tensions on the troubled peninsula, reports said on Monday.
China has the most influence in curbing the North’s military grandstanding and the reclusive Kim’s previous trips to his neighbor have led to steps that have reduced security concerns for the economically vibrant region and between the rival Koreas.
YUSHU, China (Reuters) – The official death toll from an earthquake on China’s remote Tibetan plateau last week reached 1,944 on Monday, but rescuers dug out two more survivors who had been trapped under rubble for more than 100 hours.
Another 216 people are listed as missing after the quake struck last Wednesday, the official Xinhua news agency said, though rescue operations across the ruined town of Gyegu in Qinghai province’s Yushu country were being scaled down as the focus shifted to aid distribution.
YUSHU, China, April 18 (Reuters) – President Hu Jintao flew to China’s remote and ruined Yushu county to speed relief distribution on Sunday, as Tibetan monks cremated victims of an earthquake in the northwest that killed nearly 1,500 people.
Hu cut short a visit to South America to fly to the disaster area. Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Saturday asked Beijing if he could also visit the site to comfort victims.
The Dalai Lama has not returned to China since fleeing Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising, and is unlikely to get permission to go.
Chinese rescuers pulled a 68-year-old man from the rubble early on Sunday. He had been trapped for 100 hours, the official Xinhua news agency reported. The man’s condition appeared stable, rescuers said, and he had been taken to hospital.
Hundreds of military trucks, joined by convoys organised by private aid groups, rolled across the 1,000 km (620 miles) from the provincial capital to Gyegu, the Yushu county seat where survivors are increasingly desperate for food and shelter.
Hu inspected quake damage and visited affected residents in Gyegu’s Zhaxi Datong village, Xinhua said.
In Tuanjie village, outside Gyegu, relief workers distributed blankets at the local monastery but said the high altitude is limiting their ability to fly in food.
"We have never had such a big earthquake before so this is completely unexpected for us and we were not prepared," said He Zhanlu, team leader for aid distribution in the village. "To add to this, aid from all over the country is coming to us now, so traffic conditions on the road is a logistical problem."
Some non-government organisations have set up distribution centres outside Gyegu to stop looting and fights over food.
Family members brought more wrapped bodies to hundreds of chanting monks. The monks, many who came on pickup trucks from other Tibetan regions, estimate they have cremated more than 1,000 bodies on a grassy hillside outside Gyegu.
The sheer number has forced them to abandon traditional "sky burials", in which the dead are left for vultures to eat.
Residents and rescue teams picked through the wreckage of collapsed homes, looking for the dead and for bits and pieces to make life in tents or in the cold outdoors a little easier.
"Our first problem is that there aren’t enough tents, and too many of the ones that are arriving are going to people with influence," said Dongzhu, an ethnic Tibetan who was scouring the remnants of his collapsed home on Saturday.
The harsh conditions on the Tibetan plateau — Gyegu is about 4,000 metres (13,000 feet) above sea level — mean reconstruction is urgent. Temperatures drop below freezing at night and strong winds blow constantly.
"When winter comes here, it’s very, very cold and windy too," Dongzhu said. "I can’t imagine what it would be like to be living in a little tent when winter comes."
Donations from other provinces have reached 225 million yuan ($32.97 million), Zuo Ming, an official at the Ministry of Civil Affairs, said on Sunday.
"At the moment, the supplies that have been sent are enough to ensure people there have shelter, food and water. Of course, there are shortages, and a lot of supplies are still in transit," he told reporters.
Tibetan students in regional cities have volunteered to translate at hospitals, where patients are unable to communicate with Chinese doctors, Xinhua said.
Dongzhu’s family was sleeping outdoors in their courtyard, surrounded by Buddhist statues and other recovered items.
"There’s absolutely no way that the families around here could afford to pay for new homes themselves, and after this we will want quake-resistant homes," said Dongzhu, a retired local official in his sixties.
Many local families make a few thousand yuan a year from small businesses, itinerant labour or herding yaks and goats. ($1=6.825 yuan)
(Additional reporting by Melanie Lee and Jim Bai; Writing by Lucy Hornby; Editing by Paul Tait)
YUSHU, China (Reuters) – Chinese President Hu Jintao flew to remote and ruined Yushu county to speed relief distribution on Sunday, as Tibetan monks cremated victims of an earthquake that killed nearly 1,500.
Hu cut short a visit to South America to fly to the disaster area. The Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama on Saturday asked Beijing if he could visit the site to comfort the victims. He has not returned to China since fleeing Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising, and is unlikely to get permission to go.
YUSHU, China (Reuters) – In the aftermath of this week’s deadly earthquake in China, the schoolbags strewn in courtyards and a blackboard hanging incongruously over rubble have once again put the safety of China’s schools in question.
Most of the schoolchildren in Gyegu, a wind-swept town deep in the Tibetan plateau, were able to run out of their classrooms before the buildings collapsed. Many teachers said their survival was a matter of luck and timing.
YUSHU, China (Reuters) – Tibetans mourned dead relatives Friday from an earthquake that killed nearly 800 people in remote western China, as rescue crews found a handful of survivors and homeless residents complained of aid delays.
The official death toll from the quake that flattened much of the town of Gyegu climbed to 791, though some local people cast doubt on that figure, saying many more had died without being counted. Estimates by NGOs support a figure of about 1,000 dead.
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – A Chinese woman is seeking extensive plastic surgery to look like U.S. actress Jessica Alba, mainly because she hopes to win back her boyfriend who she said always wished she looked more like the Hollywood star.
The 21-year-old, who would only give her name as Xiaoqing, said she was devastated after she broke up with her lover, an ardent fan of the actress who has starred in hit movies such as “Fantastic Four” and “Into the Blue.”
I just discovered roller disco in China! The oh so 1980s disco craze is still rolling on in China due to a huge following from the country’s masses of migrant workers.
On a regular weeknight, the Xinxiang roller skating rink in the one of the Shanghai’s less fancy districts is teeming with crowds of young migrant workers, mostly in their 20s.