Earthquake toll tops 62,500

Chengdu, May 25:

A strong aftershock jolted southwestern China today, killing at least one person and rattling residents still reeling from the massive earthquake two weeks ago that killed more than 62,500.

The aftershock — the strongest to hit Sichuan province since the devastating May 12 quake — came as more foreign aid arrived in the disaster zone for the more than 5.4 million people left homeless by the tragedy.

Relief workers raced to reach those in need as conditions for survivors living in makeshift camps looked set to worsen, with rain falling throughout the day and forecasters saying heavy downpours were possible by nightfall.

State television quoted an earthquake relief official in the city of Guangyuan, north of the provincial capital Chengdu, as saying the aftershock caused at least one death and 262 injuries in that city.

The aftershock measured 6.4 on the Richter scale, an official with the Sichuan Earthquake Bureau said.

The US Geological Survey put the magnitude of today’s aftershock at 5.8.

The quake sent people fleeing from buildings in the provincial capital, AFP correspondents witnessed.

The death toll from the initial quake continued to rise, with the government putting the figure

today at 62,664, with another 23,775 missing.

Aid continued to pour into the region for the 5.47 million people left homeless and more than 11 million people who China says are expected to be housed in temporary camps as areas rendered unlivable are evacuated.

A Russian military transport plane carrying tents, blankets, field hospitals and other supplies touched down before dawn in Chengdu, state media reports said — one of 12 Russian aid flights expected.

A French medical team also arrived in Chengdu and headed for Guangyuan to help treat quake victims there, members said.

The US Army has already flown in supplies and the German Red Cross has set up a field hospital in Dujiangyan.

During a visit to the devastated town of Yingxiu yesterday, Premier Wen Jiabao told reporters he wanted to “sincerely thank the international community.”