China stresses minimizing loss after strong quake

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At an executive meeting of China's State Council, or the cabinet, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang urged more efforts to minimize casualties and resettle affected residents after the 7.0-magnitude earthquake jolted southwestern Sichuan Province.

Li proposed a moment of silence to mourn the victims of the Lushan earthquake and people who lost their lives in disaster relief operations.

Troops wearing protective clothing move dead ducks from a poultry farm in Lushan County in earthquake-hit Ya'an City in southwest China yesterday. About 60,000 ducks were safely disposed of to prevent disease. The troops also treated carcasses at sites where mass deaths of animals occurred. [Shanghai Daily]

The rescue cannot be given up although the "golden rescue time," or the first 72 hours after the quake, is over. Rescuers should continue their all-out efforts in a scientific way, checking every corner to search for survivors, said a statement issued after the meeting.

Medical staff and materials, including blood and medicines must be guaranteed to ensure timely treatment of patients, the statement said.

The strong earthquake, which struck Lushan County in Ya'an City Saturday morning, has left 196 dead, 21 missing and 11,470 injured as of 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Local authorities have been urged to relocate affected residents and ensure their access to a safe house, food and clean water. Tents, clothes, sheets and prefabricated homes as well as food and funds allocated by the central government should be distributed to the needy as soon as possible, the statement said.

Epidemic prevention, especially disinfection in key areas, should be strengthened, it added.

Precautionary efforts should be made against secondary disasters such as landslides, cave-ins and mud-rock flows, the statement warned.

The conference also called for traffic in the quake zone to flow smoothly and the repair of electricity, communication and water supply infrastructures.

Medical institutions, commercial outlets and schools should be reopened quickly and post-quake reconstruction will be launched at an appropriate time, it said.

(Xinhua contributed to this story)

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