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Flood of aid reaches China's remote quake zone

Chinese President Hu Jintao hugs an injured student during a visit to a stadium in a remote Tibetan region on Sunday. “Rest assured, you will have a full recovery,” he told the girl.

Associated Press

Chinese President Hu Jintao hugs an injured student during a visit to a stadium in a remote Tibetan region on Sunday. “Rest assured, you will have a full recovery,” he told the girl.

JIEGU, China — China said Sunday that a flood of badly needed aid had finally reached this quake-shattered town, including enough food and shelter for tens of thousands of suddenly homeless, though some complained chaotic distribution meant it wasn't reaching everyone in need.

The surge in aid coincided with the arrival of Chinese President Hu Jintao, who cut short an official trip to South America to deal with the disaster in this remote Tibetan region where residents have frequently chafed under Chinese rule. The quake Wednesday killed 1,706 people and injured 12,128.

The president's carefully scripted trip included visits with displaced families living in tents and rescue teams as they dug through debris looking for the 256 still missing. He promised that the Communist Party and the government were doing everything they could to help the mostly Tibetan quake victims. Tibetan anger over political and religious restrictions and perceived economic exploitation by the majority Han Chinese have sometimes erupted in violence.

China Central Television showed Hu sitting with a Tibetan middle school student at a field hospital and comforting her as she wept. Her right arm was bandaged and supported by a sling.

"Rest assured, you will have a full recovery," he told the girl. "You will have a bright future. Grandpa will be thinking of you."

Hu and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who visited Jiegu on Thursday, have both cultivated compassionate, grandfatherly images in a bid to portray the leadership as putting people first.

On Sunday, after days of sleeping in makeshift shelters, with ice forming on blankets during the frigid nights, nearly all survivors finally had proper tents and enough food and clean water to last at least a few days. Relief workers had warned that Jiegu was teetering on the edge of unrest, with people fighting over tents and other limited goods. Bottlenecks on the winding mountain road that links Jiegu to the provincial capital of Xining — normally a 12-hour drive — were blamed for the earlier trickle of supplies.

Flood of aid reaches China's remote quake zone 04/18/10 [Last modified: Sunday, April 18, 2010 10:56pm]

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