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China braces for 50,000 quake death toll

China braces for 50,000 quake death toll
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Rescuers in China are now searching for survivors in hope rather than expectation, with the government saying the death toll from this week’s earthquake could rise to 50,000. President Hu Jintao has travelled to the quake zone and urged exhausted soldiers and emergency workers keep up their efforts.

Four days after the quake and officials say all remote areas of Sichaun hit by the tremor have now been reached. But as time passes fewer and fewer people are being pulled alive from the debris.

The government has launched a probe into why so many schools collapsed when other buildings remained standing. The 7.9 magnitude quake struck in the middle of the
afternoon when most children were at their desks or taking a nap.

The Housing minister has conceded cost-cutting during the buildings’ construction may have been a factor. With more than 21,000 confirmed dead emergency workers are struggling to bury the victims quickly to prevent disease spreading.