MIANYANG, China - The toll of the dead and missing soared as rescue workers dug through flattened schools and homes on Tuesday in a desperate attempt to find survivors of China’s worst earthquake in three decades. The official death toll climbed past 12,000 in Sichuan province, where emergency workers reached the epicenter of the massive quake as night fell. The number appeared certain to rise far higher as rescue and recovery efforts moved forward. Soldiers who hiked past blocked roads located only 2,300 of the 9,000 people of Yinxiu, a town near the epicenter in Wenchuan county, state TV quoted local emergency official He Biao as saying. At least 500 people were confirmed dead in the country, the official Xinhua News Agency reported early Wednesday. Xinhua News Agency said 18,645 people were still buried in debris in and around Mianyang, a city about 60 miles east of the epicenter. People there spent a second night sleeping outside in the rain, some under striped plastic sheeting strung between trees. The government ordered people not to return to their homes, citing safety concerns, and posted security guards outside apartment complexes to keep people out. Few lights were on in the city of 700,000,… Read full this story
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