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Psychological counselling starts for quake victims
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A psychological counselling team arrived in China's quake-hit area on Thursday to help quake victims and rescue workers towards recovery.

The team of 10 experienced medical workers from east China's Zhejiang Province, reached Pingwu County, one of the areas in Sichuan Province worst hit by Monday's 7.8 magnitude earthquake.

"Psychological relief is as equally important as physical treatment," said Zhao Guoqiu, the team's head. "To carry out timely psychological counselling for quake victims and forefront rescuers, can not only alleviate their anxiety, but also refresh them and encourage them to overcome difficulties."

The strong quake hit Wenchuan County, about 159 km northwest of the Sichuan provincial capital Chengdu at 2:28 p.m. Monday. The confirmed death toll in Sichuan was 19,509 by 4 p.m. Thursday. The death toll was estimated at 50,000.

Meanwhile, a volunteer team of about 20 psychological recovery experts organized by the Chinese Communist Youth League will also soon leave for the quake-hit area to help youths there.

Earlier on Thursday Gao Qiang, deputy minister of health said "We have noticed some survivors were traumatized after losing their family members and relatives, and some children were scared during the quake.

"The impact of the earthquake might affect survivors for a long time," he said. "Some people might not show any symptoms of psychological problems in the short term, but might suffer from mental disorder in the long term.

"Besides normal medical care given to injured people, we will give psychological intervention to these survivors," he said.

Qualified psychologists will join the medical staff teams sent to the quake-hit regions, he added.

(Xinhua News Agency May 15, 2008)

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