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Race against time in China to find earthquake -

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Race against time in China to find earthquake survivors

Broadcast: 14/05/2008

Reporter: Stephen McDonell

In China, an army of rescue workers are battling to reach the country's earthquake disaster zone.
Almost 12,000 people are confirmed dead and countless more lie buried under the rubble.

Transcript

SUE LANNIN: A massive search and rescue operation is underway in China, following yesterday's 7.9
magnitude earthquake in the south-west of the country.

Twelve-thousand people are confirmed dead and countless more lie buried under the rubble.

The Chinese Government has welcomed offers of foreign aid, as it struggles with the scale of the
devastation.

China correspondent Stephen McDonell reports from Chengdu.

STEPHEN MCDONELL: The earthquake struck with no warning and with devastating force. There was
little refuge for those caught in its fury.

Here, a terrified a student tried to protect himself as the quake hit.

The destruction is overwhelming. Entire villages have been levelled and buildings torn to shreds.

China has responded at lightning speed with a massive search and rescue effort. Specially trained
troops are pouring in to hunt for the victims.

Among the carnage, they're desperately searching for survivors. Rescuers pulled one lucky girl from
the rubble.

Premier Wen Jiabao is already at the disaster zone to oversee the rescue operation.

At the site of a collapsed high school, he called out to buried victims that help is on the way.
But in bad weather, rescuers are struggling to reach the injured.

On a tragic day for China, this is probably the saddest location.

I'm standing next to a high school where 900 students have been buried in the rubble and rescue
workers are trying to save who they can. Behind me, they're bringing out the bodies and the family
and friends of those involved, awaiting to see if one of their loved ones has survived.

One girl went to the Juyuan Middle School, looking for her little brother.

"We haven't been told what's happened to him," she said. "I hope he's been taken to hospital".

With the identification of each new body at the school, fireworks were lit to send the dead off
peacefully.

Bad as their conditions are, their far better off than those further north where rescue workers are
struggling to reach the quake's epicentre.

Many roads are blocked and the devastation, the rescue teams will eventually find, is likely to
dwarf anything seen so far.

As relatives mourn their dead, China is bracing itself for the casualties still to come.

Stephen McDonell, Lateline.