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113,080 armed forces sent in quake rescue
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China's armed forces had dispatched 113,080 soldiers and armed police to help with rescue operations in earthquake-hit areas as of 8 a.m. on Sunday.

National Defense Ministry spokesman Hu Changming told a press briefing that the armed forces had pulled 21,566 people both dead and alive from the debris, but he gave no other details on this figure, treated 34,051 injured people and transferred 205,370 people to safety.

Military transport aircraft and helicopters had made 1,069 flights, and 92 military trains as well as about 110,000 military vehicles, cranes, rubber boats, portable communication devices and power generators were used in the operations, Hu said.

The first Chinese military rescue team headed for the disaster area within 14 minutes after the strong earthquake hit the southwest Sichuan Province, said Hu.

He said the Chinese military established different rescue zones. The servicemen were also well-equipped with satellite, life detection equipment and radar to increase the efficiency of the operation.

He also told reporters that 115 medical teams were sent to the disaster zone, and quilts, food, medicine and tents weighing 780,000 tons were distributed.

Armed forces personnel had donated about 160 million yuan (22.9 million U.S. dollars) to relief work, Guo said, stressing the sum was still rising.

The armed forces also airdropped 307 tons of relief supplies and repaired 557 kilometers of damaged roads, he said.

China's military response was "orderly" and "efficient", he said.

Another senior military officer Ma Jian said all the nuclear facilities in the earthquake-hit areas were safe and secure.

"I could say in a responsible manner that all these facilities are safe and secure," said Ma, deputy director of the Combat Department of the General Staff Headquarters of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). "There are no problems at all."

The military had conducted a thorough inspection of all the facilities and garrisons involved and found no major damage, said Ma.

He denied rumors that two paratroops died in airdrops, saying they were completely "fabricated" and "unfounded", adding no serviceman was killed in the rescue operations.

He said seven soldiers died in the earthquake, adding they were buried when the massive quake happened.

The 8.0-magnitude earthquake had claimed more than 31,900 lives in southwest China's Sichuan Province by 4 p.m. Sunday, while over 9,500 people remain buried.

Nationwide, the confirmed death toll rose to 32,477 on Sunday.

(Xinhua News Agency May 18, 2008)

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