Rescuers Face Tough Conditions In China Quake Zone

An official from the Ministry of Civil Affairs said about 15,000 houses had collapsed and 100,000 people were homeless and needed to be relocated. Speaking at a press conference in Beijing, Zou Ming, the director of the ministry's disaster relief department, appealed for tents, coats and food for the homeless in the quake zone.

"Tents, winter clothes, quilts and instant food are most needed in the quake-hit region," Zou told reporters. He said tents and other relief items are being shipped to Yushu but there will be delays in sending all of the needed supplies due to transport bottlenecks.

Most of the quake survivors faced the prospect of spending a second night in the open air in freezing weather. Last night, some managed to set up their own tents while others wrapped themselves up with quilts taken from their destroyed homes. A number of survivors even sought temporary shelter inside buildings that remained standing after the quake.

Yushu is a poor area populated mostly by Tibetan farmers and yak herdsmen. China considers Yushu as a "Tibetan autonomous prefecture" under Qinghai province that is separate from the Tibet autonomous region. On the other hand, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, views Yushu and other areas of Qinghai and Gansu provinces as part of a "Greater Tibet." The birth place of the Dalai Lama is in Qinghai.

Dalai Lama Says He Is Praying for Quake Victims

The Dalai Lama issued a statement saying he was praying for the quake victims. "It is my hope that all possible assistance and relief work will reach these people. I am also exploring how I, too, can contribute to these efforts," said the Nobel Peace laureate.

Both Wednesday's quake and the deadly one in Sichuan two years ago occurred along the Longmenshan fault, which according to geologists runs underneath the mountains that divide the Tibetan plateau in the west and the Sichuan plain below.

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