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China: Quake toll surpasses 60,000

  • Story Highlights
  • Death toll surpasses 60,000, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao says
  • U.N. chief tours quake epicenter Saturday
  • Officials appeal for millions of tents to shelter 5 million people made homeless
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(CNN) -- China's Premier Wen Jiabao Saturday gave U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon a dramatic look at damage caused by the massive quake that hit Sichuan province earlier this month as the death toll from the catastrophe jumped past 60,000.

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A woman hugs a picture of her daughter, who died with other students at a school in Wufu, China, on May 12.

A strong aftershock shook the town of Yingxiu, a small town near the epicenter of May 12's 7.9 magnitude quake, as Wen and Ban toured the area.

"The world will not forget," Ban told Wen, who appealed the U.N. chief to help raise international aid for the region.

China's central government announced Saturday that the death toll had risen to 60,560 with another 26,221 people missing and 353,290 injured.

Nearly every building in Yingxiu was destroyed and no residents remain there. About half of the town's 18,000 residents are either dead or missing and most survivors left on foot, leaving behind a ghost town.

Wen predicted that a return to "normal" life in the area would take about three months, adding that the lack of infectious disease outbreaks despite harsh living conditions for survivors had lessened the scope of the disaster.

The central government estimates that 45 million people, mostly in the Sichuan province, were affected by the massive earthquake and that five million were left homeless.

China put out an urgent call for tents and medical supplies to help victims of the earthquake.

Despite the passage of 12 days since the quake, searchers are still hoping to find people alive under collapsed structures.

A government official said Saturday that a rescue operation was under way for 24 coal miners believed trapped in three mines in the quake zone. The government said at least 176 coal miners were killed and 254 were missing in the 316 coal mines affected by quake.

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Ban's China visit was sandwiched between trips to Myanmar, where Cyclone Nargis struck three weeks ago, leaving more than 130,000 people dead or missing and displacing as many as 2 million others.

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Even while China is dealing with its own tragedy, Wen told Ban that China would sent $10 million dollars in aid to Myanmar in addition to $4 million dollars in relief supplies already offered.

After his quake tour, Ban flew out of Chengdu, China for Bangkok, Thailand before traveling again on Sunday to Myanmar.

Copyright 2008 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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