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DISASTER UPDATE: 5-13-08 Death Toll from China Quake Tops 12,000; 3.5 Million Homes Destroyed
Tuesday, May 13, 2008 9:24am

BEIJING, CHINA From CNN  (By: Tom Pace, Talk of the Town) BREAKING: DISASTER  11:15am 5-13-08  The death toll from China's massive 7.9 quake on Monday has now topped 12,000, and continues to rise.  In a CNN story, China's state-run news agency is reporting that  Li Chengyun, vice governor of Sichuan, said 26,206 people were injured and as many as 3.5 million homes have been destroyed. 

A string of nearly 30 seismic jolts hit the province in the first 24 hours following Monday's quake and slowed the progress of 1,300-strong rescue teams. All of those quakes were magnitude 4.0 and above.

A Chinese Civil Affairs Ministry official said his country welcomed foreign donations of money and materials, but it was not ready for outside teams of rescue and relief workers because its transportation system could not handle the additional traffic.  

The Chinese government on Tuesday accepted an American offer of $500,000 in relief funds, according to an official with the U.S. Agency for International Development. However, China has not asked for other disaster assistance. 

Roads blocked by rocks and mudslides had hampered the effort to reach the epicenter in Wenchuan County, forcing military doctors and soldiers to walk to reach the area almost 24 hours after the 7.9 magnitude earthquake shook central China, Xinhua said.

Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao ordered the military to make it a priority to open the roads into Wenchuan County, home to about 100,000 people, by midday Tuesday. He arrived in the earthquake zone Monday to personally direct the relief efforts.

"At present, we have great difficulties to carry out our rescue work," Wen said. "Blocked roads, disrupted communication and continuous rainfall have all created obstacles to our rescue efforts."

Several thousand additional soldiers should reach the area later Tuesday afternoon, Xinhua said. 

Heavy rains forced the military to cancel plans to drop Chinese People's Liberation Army paratroopers into the Wenchuan area, Xinhua said. Bad weather also has grounded all helicopter relief efforts, the military said. 

CNN's John Vause saw block after block of devastation in the town of Jiang You, about 60 miles (100 km) from the epicenter, arriving there about a day after the quake hit.

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