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China Mobilizes Troops to Help Earthquake Victims in Southwest

Sept. 9 (Bloomberg) -- China dispatched 7,200 soldiers and militiamen to boost rescue efforts after two magnitude-5.6 earthquakes struck the country’s southwestern provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

More than 11,000 rescuers are working to clear roads, evacuate residents and search for the missing, Xinhua said today, citing the rescue headquarters. The government is “pouring” blankets, quilts, water and other relief items into the mountainous areas, it said.

The casualty toll may rise beyond the known 80 killed, 820 injured and more than 6,650 homes destroyed by the Sept. 7 quakes, as damage to communications and infrastructure makes it difficult to gather information, Xinhua said, citing rescue officials.

Premier Wen Jiabao arrived in the region early yesterday and spent a night visiting survivors and urging all-out rescue efforts, Xinhua said. The Ministry of Finance allocated 1.05 billion yuan ($166 million) to Yunnan province for quake relief, it said yesterday on its website.

About 744,000 people were affected by the earthquakes, it said. State and provincial civil affairs authorities have sent 21,000 tents, 31,000 quilts and 26,000 winter coats to Yunnan, Xinhua reported.

Power and communications were cut off and transportation disrupted in Luozehe, the town in Yunnan’s Yiliang county that was worst hit, Xinhua said. More than 200,000 people in Yunnan and 28,000 in Guizhou have been relocated, it said.

A magnitude-7.9 quake in neighboring Sichuan province in May 2008 collapsed schools and other buildings, killing about 90,000 people and sparking protests and accusations that corrupt officials turned a blind eye to substandard construction.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: William Bi in Beijing at wbi@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Tighe at ptighe@bloomberg.net

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