UN chief pledges world's support for quake victims | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 25, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 25, 2008

UN chief pledges world's support for quake victims

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (L) walks past a collapsed school during his visit to the earthquake-hit town of Yingxiu in Wenchuan county, in China's Sichuan Province yesterday. Ban met with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Yingxiu, the epicentre of the earthquake that left more than 80,000 people dead or missing, and pledged support to China's earthquake survivors.Photo: AFP

China warned Saturday that the death toll from its worst earthquake in a generation could climb past 80,000, as visiting UN chief Ban Ki-moon pledged the world's support.
The UN secretary general came to Yingxiu, the epicentre of the 8.0-magnitude earthquake, which turned this former town of 10,000 people in southwestern Sichuan prefecture into rubble.
As workers in protective suits sprayed disinfectant to curb disease and the stench of corpses, Premier Wen Jiabao told Ban that the death toll from the tragedy had crossed 60,000, a jump of more than 4,000 from a day earlier.
Fatalities "may further climb to a level of 70,000, 80,000 or more," the premier said.
Nearly 30,000 people were missing and up to 300,000 others injured in the May 12 tragedy, he added.
Ban came as international efforts to support China picked up steam, with UN agencies rushing aid and experts and contributing eight million dollars from its emergency fund.
"If we work hard we can overcome this. The whole world stands behind you and supports you," Ban said.
Ban was on a brief stop in between trips to neighbouring Myanmar, where one day earlier he persuaded the ruling military leaders to accept an international relief effort for survivors of the cyclone which struck there three weeks ago.
While Myanmar's junta has come under fierce criticism for its response to the disaster, Ban praised the response of the Chinese.
"The Chinese government at an early stage of the natural disaster made search and rescue efforts, demonstrated extraordinary leadership to overcome this natural disaster," Ban said.
China has accepted international rescue teams and doctors, although it faced some criticism for waiting several days to make the decision.
China has been eager since the quake to ease tensions with other countries. Protests targeting the upcoming Beijing Olympics flared earlier this year due to criticism of China's handling of demonstrations in Tibet.

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