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US volunteers help quake victims near epicenter
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A group of American volunteers have come to an earthquake-stricken county in southwest China's Province to help rescue the victims there.

The 16-member team, organized by the US-based humanitarian organization Heart to Heart International, also brought a truck and an ambulance to the Beichuan County, about 160 km northeast of the epicenter, Wenchuan County.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao meets several American volunteers who are lending a helping hand and expresses his gratitude for their aid on Wednesday, May 14, 2008, in Qushan Town, Beichuan County, one of the regions worst hit by Monday's massive earthquake.

"I have been in China for almost 10 years. I was born in America, but Chengdu (capital of Sichuan Province) is also my hometown," said Brian Robinson, the team leader and the China Chief Representative of Heart to Heart International.

"We've got some medical equipment and medicine through Heart to Heart International after the earthquake. Then we come here to render help," said Robinson, a doctor of medicine who speaks fluent Chinese.

With the help of Xinhua reporters, the American volunteers took several boxes of syringe needles and salt water from their vehicles to the playground of the Beichuan Middle School, where the injured people were being treated in makeshift tents.

They had to walk about three kilometers back to their vehicles to fetch more medical equipment and medicine -- they could not drive vehicles to the playground because roads had been destroyed.

Kelsey Gardner, a nurse, joined Chinese colleagues in treating injured people soon after she entered a tent. She said she just arrived in Chengdu several months ago and works at NO. 6 Hospital of Chengdu.

Aaron Cyboron, a university student studying in Chengdu, told Xinhua that he had come to Beichuan many times in the past and he had special affection for the place.

"Each life is very important. We ought to do our best to help the disaster victims," he said.

Up to 5,000 people were feared dead in Beichuan and the figure is rising. At the Beichuan Middle School alone, at least 1,000 students were killed or missing because of the collapse of buildings.

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Wenchuan Monday afternoon and it was also felt in most parts of the county.

The death toll across the country has risen to 14,866, the latest government statistics show.

Among those, 14,463 were confirmed dead in Sichuan Province, 280 in Gansu Province, 106 in Shaanxi Province, 14 in Chongqing Municipality, two in Henan Province, one in Yunnan Province and one in Hubei Province.

(Xinhua News Agency May 15, 2008)

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