Fifteen British tourists have been reported missing in the region of south-western China worst hit by yesterday’s devastating earthquake. The group are thought to have been in Wolong Province, famous for its connections with Giant Panda conservation. State television showed Premier Wen Jiabao visiting the Sichuan regional capital Chengdu and shouting words of encouragement to those waiting for rescue under tons of rubble.
The death toll is likely to rise sharply, with officials saying at least ten thousand people are now known to have died in one district alone. The quake’s force was felt across much of China, making buildings sway as far away as Beijing and even Bangkok.
With thousands of homes destroyed or unsafe in the Sichuan regional capital, Chengdu, thousands were forced to spend the night on the streets.
50,000 soldiers have been deployed to help with the rescue efforts, but showers forecast for Sichuan later today could make the operation more difficult.
The disaster has come at a bad time for China, which hosts the Olympic Games in August and has been struggling to keep a lid on unrest in ethnic Tibetan areas.