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54 tourists died in quake, no foreigners
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Fifty-four tourists were killed in the May 12 earthquake, but there are no reports of any foreigners being among the death toll, the Sichuan provincial tourism bureau said in Chengdu on Friday.

Zhang Gu, the bureau's head, told a news briefing that 10,668 tourists were stranded after the quake, and more than 20 flights and 100 vehicles were used to evacuate them.

Vice-governor Huang Yanrong said 516 foreigners were stranded. They came from 12 countries, including the Republic of Korea, the United States and Australia.

"The number of tourist deaths was reduced to a minimum due to the timely rescue effort," Huang said.

Sichuan's tourism sector lost more than 50 billion yuan ($7.24 billion) in the quake.

A group of tourists from Taiwan is expected to arrive at Emei Mountain in Sichuan next Monday via a chartered flight.

Sichuan had expected to receive 8,000 Taiwan tourists who would come by chartered flights this year, officials at the briefing said.

In Beijing on Friday, a high-profile meeting was held to discuss disaster relief and reconstruction after the Sichuan quake.

President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and other members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee attended the meeting.

High ranking officials from central government departments and provincial governments also attended.

The meeting agreed the situation remains severe, and efforts must be made to treat the injured, resettle those left homeless and prevent epidemic outbreaks.

"A people-first policy should be followed" in the work of governments at all levels, it said.

While asking all provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions to lend a helping hand, the meeting called on quake-hit areas to be self-reliant in rebuilding homes.

4 more deaths

The death toll from the earthquake rose by four overnight to 69,163, as of Friday noon, with 374,142 injured and 17,445 still missing, the State Council Information Office said.

Also as of Friday, hospitals had treated 95,572 people, 77,962 of whom have been discharged.

As of Friday noon, about 1.17 million tents, 4.772 million quilts, 14 million garments, 978,300 tons of fuel oil and 2.09 million tons of coal had been sent.

Domestic and foreign donations have reached 45.5 billion yuan in cash and goods.

In the 24 hours ending Friday noon, 160 aftershocks had been monitored in the quake zone, none above 4.0 magnitude, the China Earthquake Administration said.

A total of 11,939 aftershocks have been detected in the quake area since May 12.

As of Friday, potential danger had been removed from 12 of 34 quake lakes in Sichuan.

(Xinhua News Agency June 14, 2008)

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