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Rescue team flies off to aid quake-hit Tibet areas
By Zhao Huanxin (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-07-13 01:49

An emergency rescue team is expected to fly to Tibet today to assess and aid two earthquake-stricken counties in the Southwest China region, a China Seismological Bureau official said Monday.

A powerful earthquake, measuring 6.7 on the Richter Scale, jolted the autonomous region's Zhongba County of Xigaze Prefecture and Coqen County of Ngari Prefecture at 7:08 am Monday. There was no immediate word of casualty by last night, according to the bureau.

"The quake-hit areas are basically uninhabited, where communications conditions are poor," said Xu Deshi, chief of the bureau's earthquake disaster emergency response department.

Included on the team are situation analysts, as well as prediction and communications experts.

The epicentre, located in Longger Township of Zhongba County at 30.5 degrees north latitude and 83.4 degrees east longitude, is 680 kilometres from the regional capital of Lhasa.

Toinzhub, Zhongba County magistrate, said a precise report on death toll or damage will not be available for at least two weeks,since local traffic is extremely inconvenient. It takes a day's drive from the county seat of Zhongba to the epicentre.

Lobsang Lhunzhub, head of the Longger township, said officials are scouring villages to look for possible casualties or damage.

People in the township, situated at an altitude above 5,000 metres on the Gangdise Range, make their livings from herding. They live scattered around the vast area, adding to the difficulty of gathering information, according to a Xinhua report.

The Tibet tremor coincided with an International Conference on Continental Earthquakes in Beijing, where more than 240 experts from 42 countries and regions gathered Monday to discuss emergency management and insurance.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu said China, an earthquake-prone country, has intensified its efforts to reduce seismic risks and enhance public awareness of disaster reduction.

Salvano Briceno, director of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, said it is imperative to increase people's understanding of earthquake phenomena and the development of technology to identify and reduce vulnerabilities that are at the origin of disasters.

"Earthquakes continue to hit areas where people are neither prepared nor alerted," he said.

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