China estimates more than 50,000 have been killed in an earthquake which struck four days ago. The military has sent aircraft and thousands of troops to help with search and rescue efforts, but as the hours pass, hopes of reaching survivors are fading fast. The scale of the disaster is enormous. Now the state media is warning of disease from unburied bodies and primitive sewage facilities.
There are fears hundreds of dams in the area, shaken by the quake, may collapse. And there are rumours of radiation leaks from a nuclear weapons research lab and atomic sites in the region. But many rescuers have been hampered by blocked roads. Emergency crews must wait for them to be repaired before much of the work can begin.