Hu visit aims to boost confidence in China quake relief

In his visit to China’s quake zone Sunday, President Hu Jintao hugged children and promised new schools and homes.

China quake: Chinese President Hu Jintao, left, speaks to soldiers carrying out relief work in the quake-hit Yushu County, northwest of China's Qinghai Province, on Sunday.

China's government moved to assure the nation it was in control of rescue and rebuilding efforts in the remote western earthquake zone that is home to ethnic Tibetans who sometimes bristle at Beijing's rule.

Pictures and video of President Hu Jintao hugging a displaced Tibetan girl in Jiegu town in Yushu on Sunday led the state-run media on Monday alongside promises of government relief after the 6.9-magnitude quake.

"There will be new schools! There will be new homes!" Mr. Hu wrote in chalk in Chinese on a blackboard in a makeshift classroom in a tent of orphaned students, Xinhua said. He had cut short a trip to Latin America to visit the quake zone.

Touring a makeshift medical center, Hu told an injured Tibetan man: "The Party and the government care about all the victims of the quake. Doctors will give you meticulous treatment. The party and the government will help with a new home. You should have confidence and recover," Xinhua reported.

IN PICTURES: Earthquake in China's Qinghai province

The death toll from Wednesday's quake climbed to 1,944, with another 216 listed as still missing in Yushu county in Qinghai, the province where the exiled Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama, was born.

Many of the Tibetan quake victims in and around the mountain town of Jiegu, population roughly 100,000, needed help communicating with the thousands of Chinese rescuers pouring in by plane and truck.

Some 100 volunteer translators from the Communist Youth League have arrived from neighboring Sichuan province, according to Xinhua news agency.

With so many Army and police rescue teams on the scene, some volunteers who traveled to Yushu were being turned away.

"Yushu was a very small place and many volunteers came. The town couldn't handle so many people, so I came back to Xining yesterday," says Wang Tao, a member of the Qinghai branch of the Beijing Blue Sky Emergency Rescue Team of hiking enthusiasts, who spent five days working in Jiegu.

"The basic relief supplies, including food, water and tents, have already gradually reached the disaster zone and basically met the needs of the victims," Wang continues, adding that some victims appeared still to need infant milk formula.

The visit to the quake zone by Hu and by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao last Thursday had "comforted the victims and also boosted the morale of volunteers and soldiers," Wang says.

Rescuers pulled some 6,870 people from the rubble of collapsed buildings, Miao Chonggang, deputy head of quake relief and emergency response for the China Earthquake Administration's, told a news conference in Beijing on Monday.

More than 15,000 rescuers, including 11,000 from the People's Liberation Army and People's Armed Police, are in Yushu, said Mr. Miao. He added that 2,800 firefighters and special police forces and 1,500 earthquake and mine accident rescuers are also in the area.

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