Thousands flee as flood threatens quake-hit Chinese town

Residents of an earthquake-devastated town in south-western China fled on Saturday as a nearby lake was reportedly in imminent danger of flooding the town, dpa reported.

The residents of Beichuan in Sichuan province began rushing onto hillsides and some clambered onto motorcycles to leave the town as quickly as possible, Ariane Reimers, a correspondent from German broadcaster ARD, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa by telephone.

The river through the town had almost dried up, Reimers said, apparently because a landslide blocked it, causing a lake to form.

The government's official Xinhua news agency earlier said the military had ordered the evacuation of injured people from the town. Only 10,000 of the 30,000 residents of the town were reported to have survived the quake.

"Forty-six seriously injured people need to be evacuated immediately in Beichuan county at the epicentre of the Sichuan quake, where the water level of a lake is rising rapidly, and the lake may burst at any time," the agency said.

The official death toll from Monday's massive quake was raised to almost 29,000 on Saturday and the number of wounded was put at close to 200,000. More than 100,000 soldiers were deployed to search the rubble and help with the relief effort.

Meanwhile, an estimated 5 million people left homeless by the earthquake awoke Saturday from a fifth night in difficult conditions, with tons of relief supplies flooding into the disaster zone.

Amid wrecked infrastructure, the lack of sanitation for the surviving population and the inability to bury the dead as fast as bodies were being pulled from the rubble was raising the spectre of disease.

Shortages of medical staff, medicines and blood supplies were being reported.

The Chinese military was planning to erect two additional field hospitals in the region, though equipment still needs to be transported to the scene.

China's Air Force was set to fly 10 more medical teams and 1,100 tons of relief supplies into Sichuan, drawing on military stockpiles, including 5,000 tents, 200 electrical generators, food, clothing and blankets, Xinhua reported.

Military transport aircraft are expected to fly up to 50 sorties over the weekend, airlifting supplies from across China to the Sichuan provincial capital, Chengdu.

In other news, a German tourist was pulled alive from rubble in Sichuan, a spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry said in Berlin.

A spokeswoman said the German embassy in China was looking into reports of a few Germans reported missing in the quake-hit region.

Meanwhile a survivor who spent more than 100 hours under rubble explained how he survived. The 46-year-old man said he drank his own urine and ate paper handkerchiefs and cigarettes. "I had to save myself," the man, who suffered a broken arm and a minor leg injury, told Xinhua news agency.

Able to use one only arm, he collected his urine in his shoe and banged on a toppled wall to attract attention. He was discovered by rescue workers after 100 hours along with three other survivors.

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