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Nation called to battle against quake disaster
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The worst earthquake to hit China in at least three decades has mobilized the whole nation to battle against the disaster.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao flew in Chengdu, capital of the quake-hit Sichuan province immediately after the disaster on Monday. Thousands of troops were converged in the tremor-affected areas, clambering through debris to reach the quake victims.

Doctors, nurses, policemen, repair workers and volunteers congregated in Sichuan, and tons of bottled water, milk, instant noodles, and other relief materials were trucked in and airdropped to the quake-hit areas.

An official with the the General Staff Department of People's Liberation Army (PLA) said on Wednesday that about 11,420 soldiers were brought in by air into Sichuan, setting a new record in the history of the PLA and China's aviation.

"The aviation operations exceeded those in past wars and in the 1998 massive flood," said Qian Zehong, an officer in charge of the air transportation of the relief mission.

The department issued an order at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday to dispatch 30,000 more soldiers to Sichuan to help with disaster relief work.

As of 1 p.m. on Wednesday, China had dispatched 47,813 personnel to help with relief work: PLA officers, armed police, and paramilitary forces, military sources said.

By 5 p.m. Wednesday, the Ministry of Health has sent 1,700 medical workers to Sichuan.

In Beichuan County, close to the quake center, more than 10,000 medical workers, police and volunteers were in the rescue operations, local authorities said.

In the Beichuan Middle School where about 1,000 students were buried in a collapsed building, a team of 52 doctors and nurses have worked more than 30 hours nonstop since Tuesday, and have saved more than 200 people.

As the rescue forces race against time to save lives, more help are on the way. On Wednesday morning, five medical teams arrived in Chengdu from Shanghai with mobile surgery room sets.

Jia Yuan, a manager of a biotech firm in Shanghai, said the company has received notice to speed up production of cholera vaccines.

The Shanghai government said on Wednesday that it has required universities and scientific research institutes to provide technological assistance to the quake hit areas, including water processing, water quality monitoring, damage detection and repair equipments.

Pan Guang, a research fellow of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences said the government's response has been fast.

"It's not realistic to save every victim immediately after the quake, but judging from the speed and scale of the response, China has already has a nation-wide system to counter the disaster," he added.

(Xinhua News Agency May 14, 2008)

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