China deployed hundreds of soldiers in relief operations as the death toll from the 7.6 earthquake that struck southwest China on Sunday rose to nearly 1,000 on Tuesday.
An official in China’s Civil Affairs Ministry in Beijing said the death toll had reached 938, but it was clear that the government’s information on casualties was still far from complete.
Reached by telephone Tuesday night, an official at the National Seismological Center in Beijing said that it is still impossible to know the full extent of the casualties because roads and communications to some affected areas are still cut.
China’s national television network, giving its viewers details of the earthquake for the first time since it struck, showed pictures of trucks loaded with soldiers rolling through damaged towns in Yunnan province.
The 30-second television report also showed relief workers carrying the body of an earthquake victim against a background of shattered houses.
The television report said the death toll was 600, with 578 injured, but added that these figures came from one county alone. Earlier official reports said that the earthquake destroyed most of the houses in two counties and damaged buildings in 14 others.
A local newspaper in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, said that the government had deployed 1,000 soldiers in 50 trucks to aid civilian relief workers.
The troops appeared to be carrying food, medicine and other relief supplies and helping to evacuate victims of the quake.