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Military airdrops disaster relief goods to quake-stricken towns
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The People's Liberation Army (PLA) had delivered 33.3 tons of disaster relief goods to and transfered 156 injured persons by helicopters from Wenchuan County and other quake-stricken towns in southwest China's Sichuan province as of 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

The Chengdu Military Area Command, which is in charge of the military's rescue operations, said 90 helicopter missions were carried out on Wednesday.

Goods dropped helicopters include food, medicine and tents.

As severe damage had been caused by the quake to roads connecting Dujiangyan and Wenchuan, the epicenter of Monday's 7.8-magnitude quake, the army will parachute more troops and supplies to quake-hit areas in the coming two days.

It plans to carry out 80 airdrop missions with 28 helicopters Thursday, according sources with Chengdu Military Area Command.

China will also airdrop mobile phone equipment into Wenchuan on Thursday morning to restore communications.

A small base station will be installed by then, military sources said without giving further details.

According to the sources, the first two helicopters airdropped food, drinking water and medicine to Yingxiu Township of Wenchuan County at Wednesday noon.

An army unit equipped with mobile phones was helicoptered into Wenchuan, which has been cut off, the sources said.

China planned to parachute troops and supplies into Wenchuan on Tuesday but cancelled the operation because of thunderstorms and heavy rain.

Around 4:00 p.m. Wednesday, an air force transporter airdropped for the first time five tons of disaster relief materials, including mineral water, milk, instant noodles, into Mianzhu City in Sichuan Province.

The death toll from Monday's earthquake had risen to 14,866 by 2:00 p.m. Wednesday.

(Xinhua News Agency May 14, 2008)

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